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Russian Air Strikes On Two Ukrainian Cities Kill Seven, Officials Say

Rescuers work at a site of a building heavily damaged by Russian drone strikes, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the town of Rzhyshchiv, in Kyiv region, Ukraine March 22, 2023.

At least seven people were killed on Wednesday in Russian air strikes on Ukrainian cities which President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said showed Moscow was not interested in peace.

In a series of early-morning drone strikes, six people were killed and 18 taken to hospital when two dormitories and a college were hit in Rzhyshchiv, 40 miles (64 km) south of the capital Kyiv, regional police chief Andrii Nebytov said.

The attack left a gaping hole in the top floor of a five-storey dormitory and a pile of rubble marked where part of another building had stood, a Reuters witness said.

Hours later, two residential buildings were damaged in a missile strike on the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia. One person was killed and 33 taken to hospital, officials said.

The Ukrainian military said it knocked out 16 of 21 Iranian-made Shahed drones fired by Russia.

“Every time someone tries to hear the word ‘peace’ in Moscow, another order is given there for such criminal strikes,” Zelenskiy wrote on Twitter in an apparent reference to Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s state visit to Russia, which ended on Wednesday.

Zelenskiy described the attack on Zaporizhzhia an act of “bestial savagery”.

Russia invaded its neighbour Ukraine 13 months ago and has carried out waves of air attacks. Russia says it is targeting infrastructure as part of what it calls a “special military operation” to remove what it says is a threat to its own security. Ukraine and its allies accuse Moscow of an unprovoked war to grab territory.

In Rzhyshchiv, rescue workers searched through the rubble. Three people were still missing, Nebytov said, and among the dead was an ambulance driver who went to the scene.

“The majority of people (at the dormitories) were saved because they … were in bomb shelters,” Nebytov said.

Viktoria, a town resident, said she heard the first explosion at 2 a.m.

“I woke up from that first explosion and went outside, where I heard another Shahed. It flew very low,” she said. “And then there was another explosion, from the first explosion there had already been a fire … And a third time something flew by.”

A Rzhyshchiv College employee, who gave her name as Svitlana, said the students clearly knew what to do after the explosions occurred.

“Well, the children called us, we came here and took them to our homes … Then, we sent them home,” she said. “The children were in the shelter, they did everything right.”

Air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said Russia probably carried out the Zaporizhzhia attack with high-speed rockets fired from the Tornado-S multiple rocket launch system.