AT least 20 people – including children – have been killed after Putin’s evil troops shelled a civilian convoy trying to flee heavy fighting.
Seven vehicles were hit in the shelling between occupied Svatove in Luhansk region and Ukrainian-held Kupiansk which Kyiv recaptured last month, the security service said.
Shocking images of the bombardment showed burnt out cars next to a railway track and the charred remains of the civilians who had been trying to flee.
Two bodies were seen seated in the driving seats of their cars, with one still holding the steering wheel.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office said the cops came across the horrifying scene near the village of Kurylivka on Thursday – but it’s believed the attack happened on September 25.
Vasyl Malyuk, acting head of Ukraine’s security service, said: “At least 20 people died, including 10 children.
“A brutal attack on civilians was carried out by a subversive and intelligence group of the occupiers – they shot six old cars at close range with small arms and one Gazelle truck,” he said.
Ukraine said it would “do everything to make the occupiers answer for this bloody crime”.
Oleg Sinegubov, head of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration, slammed the attack as “cruelty that has no justification”.
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A pre-trial investigation has been opened, Ukrainian authorities said.
Russian troops have retreated from much of the Kharkiv region after a lightning Ukrainian counteroffensive last month – but they have continued to shell the area.
It comes just days after some 30 people were killed after a sickening Russian missile strike targeted another civilian convoy rescuing families in “annexed” Ukraine.
The horror attack in Zaporizhzhia came hours before Putin declared four regions of Ukraine part of Russia in an escalation of his seven-month war.
Images showed burned out vehicles and bodies lying on the ground at the city’s sprawling Orekhovo car market after the missile strike.
Oleksandr Starukh, Zaporizhzhia’s regional governor, said the convoy had planned to travel into Russian-occupied territory to pick up their families and take them to safety.
The missile left a massive crater in the ground near the two rows of vehicles, with the windows of cars and vans blown out after being sprayed by shrapnel from the impact of the strike.
Plastic sheets were seen draped over the bodies of a woman and young man in a green car, while two other people were found dead in a white van with its windows blown out.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky blasted Putin’s troops as “bloodthirsty scoundrels” in response to the horrific rocket attack.
The UK’s Defence Ministry said Russia was increasingly using anti-aircraft missiles to conduct attacks on the ground likely due to a lack of munitions.
A Kremlin proxy official in the region denied the Russian army was behind the attack – and blamed Ukraine.
Russian bombardments have intensified after Moscow illegally annexed a swath of Ukrainian territory in a sharp escalation of the war.
Ukraine’s nuclear power provider said Russian forces blindfolded and detained the head of Europe’s largest nuclear plant on Saturday.
Energoatom said Russian troops kidnapped Ihor Murashov, the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, at around 4pm on Friday – just hours after Putin signed the treaties to absorb Moscow-controlled Ukrainian territory into Russia.
The state nuclear company said Russian troops stopped Murashov’s car, blindfolded him and took him to an undisclosed location.
The fierce fighting comes at a pivotal moment in Putin’s war.
As he faces Ukrainian gains on the battlefield, the tyrant has heightened his threats of nuclear force and used his most aggressive, anti-Western rhetoric to date in a rambling speech on Friday.
Despite Putin’s shameless land grab, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to keep on fighting to liberate the annexed regions and other Russian-occupied areas.
Ukrainian officials said their forces had surrounded some 5,000 Russian forces who were trying to hold the eastern city of Lyman, which is located in Luhansk – one of the four annexed areas.