‘Russian terror’: Missile strike on Ukrainian cafe kills more than 50

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Hroza, Ukraine: A Russian missile slammed into a cafe and grocery store in a village in northeastern Ukraine on Thursday, reducing the building to rubble and killing 51 people during a memorial service, Ukrainian officials said.

Large piles of bricks and shattered metal and building materials remained where the cafe and shop were hit early in the afternoon in Hroza village in Kharkiv region.

Dead bodies lie on the ground outside of a destroyed village shop and café in Hroza, Ukraine. Credit: Getty

The attack was the deadliest in the Kharkiv region since Russia’s invasion more than 19 months ago, a regional official told public broadcaster Suspilne. It also appeared to be one of the biggest civilian death tolls in any single Russian strike.

“This settlement has about 330 people,” regional Governor Oleh Synehubov said on national television, compared to 500 before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“In fact, one-fifth of this village has died in a single terrorist attack.”

Synehubov said children were among the casualties as their families had remained in the village despite a war-time order to evacuate. The village was near the town of Kupiansk, recaptured by Ukrainian forces late last year and quite close one of the war’s front lines.

Dead bodies lie on the ground outside of a destroyed village shop and café in Hroza, Ukraine. Credit: Getty

Rescue workers made their way through mounds of debris and laid out bodies in a field next to a children’s playground.

Some were placed in white body bags and taken away. Others were barely covered by carpets or other materials, with hands awkwardly protruding.

A spokesman for regional emergency services said on Telegram the search for survivors had been concluded with the death toll standing at 51 dead and six injured.

“We heard the explosion and then people said it happened in Hroza so we came because we knew my mother was here,” Valeriia Herasymenko said as rescue efforts proceeded. “A memorial service was being held in the cafe.”

Firefighters work to clear the rubble at a destroyed village shop and café in Hroza, Ukraine. Credit: Getty

Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said local officials had been sitting down for a meal at the service when the missile struck.

“From every family, from every household, there were people present at this commemoration. This is a terrible tragedy,” Klymenko told Ukrainian television.

Klymenko cited preliminary information that he said showed the attack was carried out with an Iskander ballistic missile.

He said the strike was clearly very targeted and that Ukrainian security services had launched an investigation into the matter.

“The terrorists deliberately carried out the attack during lunchtime, to ensure a maximum number of casualties,” said Defence Minister Rustem Umerov.

“There were no military targets there. This is a heinous crime intended to scare Ukrainians.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was attending a summit with European leaders in Spain, said that “the Russian terror should be stopped”.

“Now we are talking with European leaders, in particular, about strengthening our air defence, about strengthening our soldiers, about giving our country protection from terror,” he said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

Russia has frequently carried out air strikes since the start of its full-scale invasion in February 2022, and Ukraine has launched a counteroffensive in the south and east that it says is gradually making progress.

Moscow did not immediately comment on the events in Hroza. Moscow denies deliberately targeting civilians, but many have been killed in attacks that have hit residential areas as well as energy, defence, port, grain and other facilities.


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