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Russia says Ukrainian military hits nuclear plant with new strike

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station near the southeastern city of Enerhodar.

Russian authorities say the Ukrainian military has bombarded a nuclear plant in the southeast part of Ukraine.

On Sunday, authorities at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, located near the city of Enerhodar, said a strike by Ukrainian forces damaged administrative buildings inside the complex. “The Ukrainian army carried out an attack with a cluster bomb fired from an Uragan rocket launcher.”

TASS state news agency cited the authorities as saying the projectiles fell within 400 meters of a working reactor. They said the strike inflicted damage on some administrative buildings and fell in a “zone storing used nuclear fuel.”

Zaporizhzhia is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and among the 10 largest in the world. Russian forces seized the plant soon after Moscow launched its ongoing military operation in Ukraine on February 24. Ukraine accuses Russia of storing heavy weapons in the plant, while the Kremlin accuses Kiev of targeting the plant.

A day earlier, Zaporizhzhia’s Ukrainian operator, Energoatom, said the strikes carried out on Friday had “caused a serious risk for the safe operation of the plant.” According to the operator, the strikes had damaged a power cable, forced one of the reactors to stop working and “seriously damaged” a station that contained nitrogen and oxygen as well as an auxiliary building.

Following the strikes against the plant on Friday, Russia censured Ukraine for “nuclear terrorism,” saying the Ukrainian army had carried out artillery attacks against Zaporizhzhia. “Ukrainian armed units carried out three artillery strikes on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and the city of Enerhodar," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement at the time.

Russia has also taken control of the Chernobyl plant, about 100 kilometers north of Kiev, which has been one of the most radioactive locations on earth since it saw an explosion in its fourth reactor in April 1986.

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