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World News | Ukraine accuses local man of directing missile attack that killed 10 at popular pizzeria


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KIEV, June 28 (AP) — Ukrainian authorities on Wednesday arrested a man accused of helping Russia launch a missile attack on a popular pizzeria in eastern Ukraine that killed at least 10 people, including three teenagers.

Ukraine’s National Police said another 61 people were injured in the Kramatorsk attack on Tuesday night, a tactic Russia has used heavily in its 16-month war in its latest bombing of Ukrainian cities.

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The attack, and others across Ukraine late on Tuesday and early Wednesday, showed the Kremlin was not relaxing its air strikes despite the political and military turmoil caused by a brief armed uprising last weekend.

Ukraine has taken no overt military action to take advantage of the turmoil, but the government has been tight-lipped about recent battlefield developments in an attempt to gain momentum in its latest counteroffensive.

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The Kremlin was rocked by a weekend mutiny led by Yevgeny Prigozhin. Prigozhin is the owner of Wagner’s personal army of prison recruits and other mercenaries that has played a key role for Russia over Ukraine. The insurgency is by far the most serious threat to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hold on power.

Prigozhin went into exile in neighboring Belarus on Tuesday after Russia said he would not be charged for the rebellion, according to Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Prigozhin’s whereabouts could not be independently confirmed.

The education department of the city council said two 14-year-old sisters were killed in the Kramatorsk attack, the education department of the Kramatorsk city council said.

“Russian missiles stopped the beating of the hearts of two angels,” it read in the cable.

The other teenager who died was as young as 17, according to Attorney General Andrii Kostin.

Regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said the attack also damaged 18 multi-storey buildings, 65 houses, five schools, two kindergartens, a shopping mall, an administrative building and an entertainment building.

Rescuers are still searching for bodies and more survivors among the rubble.

Officials initially blamed the Kramatorsk attack on an S-300 missile, a surface-to-air weapon that the Russian military has repurposed for loosely targeted attacks on cities, but the country Police later said an Iskander short-range ballistic missile was used.

Kramatorsk is a front-line city that houses the regional headquarters of the Ukrainian army.

The pizza restaurant is frequented by journalists, aid workers, soldiers and local residents.

Ukrainian security services said they had detained a man suspected of directing the attack on the restaurant, an employee of a local gas transport company.

Security said in a Telegram post that he filmed the restaurant for the Russians and informed them of its popularity.

It provided no evidence to support its claims. Russia insisted during the war that it did not target civilian targets, even though its airstrikes killed many civilians. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that claim on Wednesday.

Kramatorsk, located in Donetsk, is one of four Ukrainian provinces that Russia claimed to annex but did not fully control last September. Russia has also occupied Crimea since 2015.

Part of the occupied province controlled by Ukraine has been hit particularly hard by Russian bombing and is a key obstacle to resolving the war.

The Kremlin has demanded that Kiev recognize the annexation, while Kiev has ruled out any talks with Russia until Russian troops withdraw from all occupied territories. Kiev recently launched a much-anticipated counteroffensive to retake the occupied territories.

Meanwhile, Russia stepped up its airstrikes in Ukraine while fighting continued on the front lines.

Russian forces also shelled 16 settlements in the southern Zaporozhye region on Tuesday and overnight, according to the Ukrainian president’s office.

Reports said a 77-year-old civilian was killed in the front-line town of Orishiv and that Russian shelling wounded three people in a nearby village recently recaptured by Kiev.

A Russian supersonic cruise missile also hit a group of holiday homes in central Ukraine, setting off a fire and injuring a child, the president’s office said.

Among other developments:

Italian Cardinal Matteo Zupi, Pope Francis’ peace envoy, will meet President Putin’s aide Yuri Ushakov in Moscow on Wednesday. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the talks would include “possible ways of a political-diplomatic solution”.

Francis sent Zupi, a veteran of the Catholic Church’s peace initiative, to Moscow, hoping to help advance peace talks after a visit to Kiev earlier this month. At the Vatican on Wednesday, Francis repeated his call for an end to the war, praying that Ukrainians “may soon find peace: There is so much suffering in Ukraine, let us not forget that.” (AP)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a syndicated news feed, the latest staff may not have revised or edited the body of content)


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