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Russia accused of striking Ukraine theatre sheltering over a thousand civilians

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Russia accused of striking Ukraine theatre sheltering over a thousand civilians
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A satellite image shows a closer view of Mariupol Drama Theatre before bombing

Ukraine has claimed that Russian forces dropped a powerful bomb on a theatre in the encircled Ukrainian port city of Mariupol where hundreds of civilians were sheltering on Wednesday.

Officials posted images that appeared to show the once gleaming whitewashed three-storey theatre hollowed out and ablaze, with bricks and scaffolding piled high, reported AFP.

"The invaders destroyed the Drama Theatre. A place where more than a thousand people found refuge. We will never forgive this," the Mariupol City Council said in a Telegram post.

Ukraine's foreign ministry said many people were trapped in the theatre and accused Russia of committing a war crime. It said the number of casualties was not yet known.

Meanwhile, Moscow denied targeting civilians and Russia's defence ministry said its forces had not struck the building.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, US President Joe Biden lambasted the Russian leadership and called Vladimir Putin a "war criminal" for "inflicting appalling devastation and horror on Ukraine" as Moscow continued to shell Ukrainian cities.

"Putin is inflicting appalling devastation and horror on Ukraine — bombing apartment buildings and maternity wards. Yesterday, we saw reports that Russian forces were holding hundreds of doctors and patients hostage. These are atrocities. It is an outrage to the world. The world is united in our support for Ukraine — and in our determination to make Putin pay a very heavy price for attacking Ukraine," Biden said.

Amid the latest assaults on civilians across Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed for help to the US, which responded by pledging USD 1 billion in new weapons to fight the Russian army.

Ukrainian authorities have said that 103 children have been killed since the invasion began.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky says another Russian general has been killed during the fighting. An adviser to Ukraine's interior ministry said Major General Oleg Mityaev had been killed by the far-right Azov Battalion.

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TAGS:Ukraine russia war 
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