Huge ‘KIDS’ sign on display at Mariupol Drama Theater before Russian bombing, Ukrainian officials say

According to Ukrainian officials, a theater in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, where hundreds of Ukrainian citizens were sheltering, was attacked by Russian forces on Wednesday.

“The Russian army has attacked the Drama Theater # Mariupol, where a large number of citizens are hiding!” The official account of the Ukrainian Parliament said in a statement on Twitter about the attack. “It is unknown how many people died under the rubble. Now there are fierce battles. No one has been able to reach the congested areas, we don’t know if there are any survivors.”

Satellite images taken just two days before the attack showed a large sign on the ground near the church that read “KIDS” in Russian, Reuters reported. On Tuesday, about 20,000 Ukrainian refugees were evacuated from the city, but it is unclear whether that includes any people believed to have been inside the theater when it was bombed.


The attack comes after weeks of bloodshed and utter destruction in besieged Mariupol, with Russian forces launching relentless attacks on hospitals, homes and other non-military targets killing about 2,500 civilians in the city. More than 350,000 residents are essentially still trapped in the city as it faces near-daily bombardment from Vladimir Putin’s army.

The Russian Defense Ministry denied that the Russian military attacked the theater and accused the Azov Battalion of Ukraine’s far-right militia of orchestrating the bombing.

Videos circulating on social media showed the theater’s building in a dilapidated state, with a thick plume of smoke rising from the site of the wreckage. According to local reports, first responders were unable to access the site of the attack due to ongoing fighting in the area and therefore were unable to assess casualty figures. Rescue efforts are said to be ongoing.

The theater attack is just the latest incident to cast doubt on official statements from the Kremlin that it has not targeted civilians since the fighting began last month.

“This is the theater that hosts Russian-language performances, a sanctuary from which the residents of Mariupol were rescued from constant shelling,” Mariupol politician Sergiy Taruta said in a statement posted on Facebook. on Wednesday. “The world is obligated to hear the screams, the groans of [the people of Mariupol]who were buried. “

Serhiy Orlov, the deputy mayor of Mariupol, told the BBC on Wednesday that between 1,000 and 1,200 people had taken shelter in the building before the attack.

The building, located in the city centre, is now “completely dilapidated”, according to Ukraine’s Interior Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who added in a statement about the attack that the Russians “couldn’t have known this was an incident.” civilian shelter.”

The Mariupol city council accused Russian forces of “purposeful and cunning” destruction of the theater, adding that “a plane dropped a bomb on a building where hundreds of peaceful Mariupol residents were living.” refuge”. Huge ‘KIDS’ sign on display at Mariupol Drama Theater before Russian bombing, Ukrainian officials say

Russell Falcon

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