A resident of Pavlohrad points to the destruction rained on his house by Russian missiles A resident of Pavlohrad points to the destruction rained on his house by Russian missiles 

Russia unleashes missiles strike in Ukraine ahead of counteroffensive

Authorities say dozens of people have been injured in a series of Russian missile strikes at Ukrainian cities. The most devastating attacks hit the eastern Ukrainian town of Pavlohrad, wounding 34 people, including five children. Two women were said to be in intensive care.

By Stefan J. Bos

Monday's predawn strikes were an apparent effort to slow Kyiv's preparations for its much-anticipated counteroffensive against Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, despite renewed calls for peace by Pope Francis.

Local police investigated heaps of rubble as several buildings were damaged or destroyed by Russian missiles that devastated an area in Pavlohrad.

One resident, Olha Lytvynenko, was visibly moved when recalling a massive blast. "When I saw another spark, I told Serhii, 'Let's put on our clothes and get out of here!' We were putting on shoes when the explosion wave smashed out both doors. Then there was the fire. I ran outside and saw that the garage was destroyed. Everything was on fire. There were glass shards everywhere. Had we been outside earlier, we would have been killed," she said.  

Another resident, Viktoriia Suprun, explained that her child had been traumatized by Monday's predawn missile barrage. "We rushed to the hallway and laid on the floor. And then the explosion wave twisted the door. We would have been trapped here if we stayed for five more seconds," she recalled.

"Then there were more explosion waves. I don't know what happened to the door, but it was difficult to get into the room. We did not sleep at night and in the morning. My child will need psychological help. It is horrible," she added, showing her young child hiding in bed.

They aren't the only ones who suffered, as dozens of people were injured here. Authorities suggested that Russia targeted Pavlohrad as it is a logistics hub near the central city of Dnipro, which was hit ahead of a much-anticipated counteroffensive by Ukraine.

More attacks

Attacks were also reported in other cities following similar attacks Friday that killed nearly two dozen people, authorities said.

The latest violence comes despite calls by Pope Francis for peace.

He made clear to reporters Sunday that the Vatican is involved in a peace mission and also wants to facilitate the return of Ukrainian children brought to Russia during the war.

Hundreds of thousands are believed to have been killed or injured since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began in February last year.

Millions of people have been uprooted, including many Ukrainian refugees who face an uncertain future outside their home country.

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01 May 2023, 16:45