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Russia bombs another shelter in besieged city

LVIV, UKRAINE (AP) – Ukrainian authorities said yesterday that Russia’s military bombed an art school sheltering some 400 people in the embattled port city of Mariupol, where Ukraine’s president said an unrelenting Russian siege would be remembered for centuries to come.

It was the second time in less than a week that city officials reported a public building where residents had taken shelter coming under attack. A bomb hit a Mariupol theatre with more than 1,300 believed to be inside on Wednesday, local officials said.

There was no immediate word on casualties from the reported strike on the art school, which The Associated Press could not independently verify. Ukrainian officials have not given an update on the search of the theatre since Friday, when they said at least 130 had been rescued.

Mariupol, a strategic port on the Azov Sea, has been under bombardment for at least three weeks and has seen some of the worst horrors of the war in Ukraine. At least 2,300 people have died, some of whom had to be buried in mass graves, and food, water and electricity have run low.

“To do this to a peaceful city, what the occupiers did, is a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to the nation. “The more Russia uses terror against Ukraine, the worse the consequences for it.”

In recent days, Russian forces have battled their way into the city, cutting it off from the Azov Sea and devastating a massive steel plant. The fall of Mariupol would be an important but costly victory for the Russians, whose advance is largely stalled outside other major cities more than three weeks into the biggest land invasion in Europe since World War II.

People march during a rally against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. PHOTO: AP

In major cities across Ukraine, hundreds of men, women and children have been killed in Russian bombardments, while millions of civilians have raced to underground shelters or fled the country.

In the capital, Kyiv, at least 20 babies carried by Ukrainian surrogate mothers are stuck in a makeshift bomb shelter, waiting for parents to travel into the war zone to pick them up. The infants – some just days old – are being cared for by nurses who cannot leave the shelter because of constant shelling by Russian troops who are trying to encircle the city.

In the hard-hit northeastern city of Sumy, authorities evacuated 71 orphaned babies through a humanitarian corridor, regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy said yesterday. He said the orphans, most of whom need constant medical attention, would be taken to an unspecified foreign country.

Russian shelling killed at least five civilians, including a nine-year-old boy, in Kharkiv, an eastern city that is Ukraine’s second-largest.

The British Defence Ministry said Russia’s failure to gain control of the skies over Ukraine “has significantly blunted their operational progress”, forcing them to rely on stand-off weapons launched from the relative safety of Russian airspace.

A rocket attack on the Black Sea port city of Mykolaiv last Friday killed as many as 40 marines, a Ukrainian military official told The New York Times, making it one of the deadliest single attacks on Ukrainian forces.

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