Russia’s Belgorod: official death toll from Ukrainian strikes rises to 24

Ukrainian servicemen lower the coffin of Ukrainian army officer into a grave at a cemetery in the Carpathian mountains in Krasnyk village, Ukraine, on Friday, Dec. 29, 2023.

Evgeniy Maloletka | AP Photo

The death toll from a Ukrainian rocket attack on the Russian city of Belgorod just north of Ukraine rose to 24 on Sunday, the governor of the Belgorod region said.

In a posting on Telegram, Vyacheslav Gladkov said there were also 108 wounded after Saturday’s attack, which he said had damaged 37 apartment buildings among other locations.

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Like other Russian border zones, Belgorod has suffered shelling and drone attacks all year that authorities have blamed on Ukraine, although none have previously been on such a scale.

Both sides deny targeting civilians in a war that Russia launched against its neighbor in February 2022. According to the United Nations, more than 10,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and nearly 60 people inside Russia. The Russian defense ministry said on Saturday that Ukraine had attacked Belgorod with rockets, but that most had been shot down.

There was no official comment from Kyiv in the hours after the attack and Reuters was not able to independently verify the Russian reports.

The Ukrainian news outlet RBC-Ukraine quoted unidentified sources as saying Ukrainian forces had directed fire at military targets in Belgorod in response to the massive Russian bombardment of Ukrainian cities the previous day.

The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that Ukraine had fired its missiles from the Kharkiv region, just across the border.

Within hours of the attack on Belgorod, Russia launched several waves of air attacks on the city of Kharkiv, injuring at least 28 people and damaging residential buildings, Ukrainian officials said.

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