A Russian missile hit a residential area of a southern Ukrainian town not far from a nuclear power station on Saturday, wounding 12 civilians and heightening fears of a nuclear accident during the months-long war, Ukrainian officials said.
Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region, said on the Telegram messaging app that four children were among those wounded in an apparent attack that damaged several private houses and an apartment building in Voznesensk.
The town is about 30 kilometres from the Pivdennoukrainsk Nuclear Power Plant (PNPP), the second largest in Ukraine.
The general prosecutor’s office in the Mykolaiv region, updating an earlier toll, gave the injured toll as 12.
State-run Energoatom, which manages all four Ukrainian nuclear energy generators, described the purported attack on Voznesensk as “another act of Russian nuclear terrorism.”
Repeated airstrike alerts
Airstrike alerts sounded several times in the Mykolaiv region on Saturday.
“It is possible that this missile was aimed specifically at the Pivdennoukrainsk Nuclear Power Plant, which the Russian military tried to seize back at the beginning of March,” Energoatom said in a statement.
Russia did not immediately respond to the accusation. Reuters was unable immediately to verify the situation in Voznesensk. There were no reports of any damage to the Pivdennoukrainsk plant.
Ukrainian authorities have called on the United Nations and other international organizations to force Russian forces to leave another nuclear power station, which has been occupied since soon after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
The town of Enerhodar, where the Zaporizhzhia plant — Europe’s largest — is located, has come under repeated shelling, with Moscow and Kyiv trading blame for the attacks.
Eye on Bakhmut
In its daily update, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said intensified combat took place around Bakhmut, a small city whose capture would enable Russia to threaten the two largest remaining Ukrainian-held urban centres in the eastern Donbas region.
Bakhmut has for weeks been a key target of Moscow’s eastern offensive as the Russian military tries to complete a months-long campaign to conquer all of the Donbas, an industrial region that borders Russia where pro-Moscow separatists have self-proclaimed a pair of independent republics.
A local Ukrainian official reported sustained fighting Saturday morning near four settlements on the border between Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, which together make up the contested region.
Luhansk Gov. Serhii Haidai did not name the settlements or mention Bakhmut, which lies around 25 kilometres from the border between the two provinces.
Russian forces overran nearly all of Luhansk last month and since then have focused on capturing Ukrainian-held areas of Donetsk.