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Russia says death toll from Ukrainian attack in Lysychansk rises to 28

This grab from a handout footage released by the Russian Emergencies Ministry on February 3, 2024, shows rescuers clearing the rubble of a destroyed bake house hit by recent shelling in the city of Lysychansk. (Photo by AFP)

The death toll from a Ukrainian attack on Lysychansk - a city in the Moscow-controlled Ukrainian region of Luhansk - has risen to 28, including a child, according to Russia’s emergencies ministry.

The ministry said on Sunday that rescue workers had retrieved the bodies of 20 people from the rubble following the Ukrainian shelling on a building housing a bakery in Lysychansk on Saturday.

“The search and rescue operation continues,” it said on the Telegram messaging app.

According to the Luhansk Information Center, Ukraine shelled the bakery using the US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

On Saturday, the ministry shared a video of emergency workers lifting two bloodied people onto stretchers and carrying them out of the ruins of a building. It said previously that its workers rescued 10 people and handed them to doctors.

The governor of Lugansk, Leonid Pasechnik, said earlier that the bakery, targeted by Kiev, was known to have fresh bread on weekends.

RIA Novosti published a video of a heavily damaged building, with emergency workers pulling out an entirely crushed car.

The one-story building had a large sign that read “Restaurant Adriatic” and appeared destroyed and covered in rubble.

An official in operational services was quoted as saying by TASS news agency that the average age of the victims was “35 years, plus or minus five years.”

Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, said “dozens of civilians” were in the building at the time of the attack and that Western weapons were used.

Lysychansk had a population of about 111,000 people before Russia began its special military operation in February 2022.

Russia took control of it and its twin city of Sievierodonetsk in the summer of 2022.

The attack came as Kiev said Russia had attacked it with a new barrage of missiles that targeted energy facilities in the central Dnipropetrovsk region on Friday.

Ukraine, meanwhile, said its air force had downed nine Russian drones that Russia launched at central and southern regions Saturday.

The new development came after frequent announcements by Ukraine that it is preparing for a counteroffensive against Russian forces to take back part of the territories it has lost throughout the war.

Analysts believe that after receiving tens of billions of dollars of Western weapons to fight Russian forces, the success or failure of any such counteroffensive would shape the future course of the West’s diplomatic and military support for Kiev.

Moscow has frequently warned that a continued supply of Western arms and military equipment for the Ukrainian military would only prolong the war and add to the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

After experiencing several months of tension with NATO, Russia started its special military with the mission of demilitarization and de-Nazification of the country following the request for help from the republics of the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.

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