Teenage twin sisters were killed Tuesday night when a Russian missile struck a crowded pizza restaurant in eastern Ukraine, leaving ten people dead and dozens of others with injuries.
Yuliya and Anna Aksenchenko, 14, were confirmed among the deceased victims in the Kramatorsk blast by the city council’s Telegram account on Wednesday, the BBC reported.
At least 10 people were killed and 61 injured when the missile reduced the RIA pizza shop and surrounding shopping center to rubble on Tuesday evening, SkyNews said.
A second missile also hit the outskirts of the city, injuring five.
“I ran here after the explosion because I rented a cafe here….Everything has been blown out there,” a 64-year-old resident named Valentyna told Reuters of the scene.
“None of the glass, windows or doors are left. All I see is destruction, fear and horror. This is the 21st century.”
In addition to the Aksenchenko, at least two other children are believed to have been killed in the blast.
Kramatorsk mayor Oleksandr Goncharenko posted on Telegram that the body of a boy had been pulled from the rubble, though he did not give the child’s age.
Another girl, 17, is also among the dead, and an infant is among the wounded.
Yuliya and Anna Aksenchenko were students at Primary School No. 2, the city’s education department said, according to SkyNews.
The sisters graduated eighth grade this year, and would have turned 15 in September.
“A Russian rocket stopped the beating of the hearts of two angels,” the office wrote on Telegram.
Images from the hours after the strike show a mess of distorted metal and other rubble while rescuers scrambled to find trapped victims.
Freelance journalist Arnaud De Decker said on Twitter that there were still people “screaming under the rubble” hours after the initial explosion.
He also shared a picture he took from inside the RIA restaurant just 20 minutes before the strike. The shop is believed to have been a known hotspot for local journalists, SkyNews said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attack as a “manifestation of terror.”
“[This] proves over and over again to us and to the whole world that Russia deserves only one thing as a result of everything it has done – defeat and a tribunal, fair and legal trials against all [Russian] murderers and terrorists,” he wrote on Twitter.
Zelensky noted that the RIA missile strike took place exactly one year after a Russian missile killed 22 people at a shopping mall in Kremenchuk.
Tuesday’s attack was the deadliest since a missile strike on an apartment building in Uman, central Ukraine, in April killed 23 people.
Moscow’s decision to target Ukrainian civilians is almost certainly very intentional, journalist Dominic Waghorn clarified to SkyNews.
“For some reason, someone in the Russian military thought it would be a good idea to fire an S-300, a surface-to-air missile [at the restaurant],” he said.
“That’s a missile that’s seven meters long, packed with explosives, normally fired from the back of a truck and designed to bring down a plane.
“It’s a pretty accurate bit of ammunition. So they probably knew exactly what they were firing at and unless there was a military justification for attacking a pizza restaurant, which almost certainly there wasn’t, this is an alleged war crime.”
While rescue operations at the RIA site remained ongoing into Wednesday, officials also confirmed that an additional three people were killed by Russian shelling in Kharkiv.
The three victims were men aged 45, 48, and 57, the BBC reported.
Russia has often targeted Ukrainian cities since launching its invasion in Feb. 2022. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that the military intentional zeroes in on the civilians.
With Post wires