Ukrainian officials in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhya said that nine rockets fired by Russian forces overnight killed at least 13 people in two apartment buildings and dozens of private homes.
The attack comes as Ukraine’s military on October 9 said its troops had recaptured nearly 1,200 square kilometers of territory in the southern Kherson region from Russian forces since beginning their counteroffensive in late August.
It also comes a day after a massive explosion damaged part of Russia’s 19-kilometer, $3.6 billion bridge over the Kerch Strait, an attack President Vladimir Putin and the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee have blamed, without evidence, on Ukrainian special forces.
The death toll from the October 8-9 attack on the city of Zaporizhzhya was revised downward from an earlier estimate of 17 killed. However, officials said 87 people were injured, including 10 children, and the casualty figures could rise.
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Zaporizhzhya city council secretary Anatoliy Kurtev said that five homes were destroyed and around 40 were damaged in the attack on the city in the Ukrainian-held part of the region, which was annexed by Russia in violation of international law last week.
Images posted on social media by Ukrainian military authorities in the Zaporizhzhya region showed significant damage to residential buildings in the regional capital.
Zaporizhzhya was also hit by major shelling on October 6, killing 11 people. The nearby Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant is located southwest of the city in territory Moscow seized early in the war.
The fresh attack came after a key bridge to the Crimean Peninsula that was constructed by Russia following its seizure of the Ukrainian territory in 2014 and was a symbol of Russia’s control of the southern region, was heavily damaged on October 8.
After what Russian officials termed a truck bombing took out one lane of the highway section of the Crimea Bridge and damaged the rail section, Moscow made changes to the command of its war effort in Ukraine and the security of key infrastructure in Crimea, with Putin putting the FSB — the successor to the Soviet-era KGB — in charge of the effort.
Ukrainian forces have continued to make gains in a weeks-long counteroffensive in the south and east of the country that has led Russian forces to retreat in many areas.
Natalya Humenyuk, Ukraine’s southern military command spokeswoman, said on October 9 that “as of today, from the beginning of the counteroffensive, over 1,170 square kilometers have been liberated in the Kherson direction.”
“Work is continuing on consolidation of territory, clearing it, and conducting stabilizing operations, as the settlements we enter contain many surprises left by the occupiers,” she told Ukrainian TV.
On October 8, Russia’s Defense Ministry named General Sergei Surovikin as the new commander of Russian forces in Ukraine who have suffered territorial losses in areas of the east and south of the country that were occupied shortly after the Russian invasion in February. Surovikin had led Russia’s Aerospace Forces since 2017.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin will chair a meeting with his Security Council in Moscow on October 10.
“Tomorrow the president has a planned meeting with the permanent members of the Security Council,” Peskov said.
Russian losses have continued after Moscow announced last month that it was annexing the Ukrainian regions of Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, Donetsk, and Luhansk partially held by Russian forces.
On October 8, Russia-imposed authorities in the Kherson region said they were facing “a difficult period” and authorized a partial evacuation in the face of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
With reporting by dpa, AP, and Reuters