Moscow accuses Kyiv of POW jail strike, says dozens dead

By: AFP
Published: 09:22 PM, 29 Jul, 2022
Moscow accuses Kyiv of POW jail strike, says dozens dead
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Russia and Moscow-backed separatists on Friday accused Kyiv's forces of striking a jail holding Ukrainian prisoners of war in eastern Ukraine, saying dozens of people died and scores were wounded.

Ukraine denied targeting civilian infrastructure or prisoners of war.

AFP was not able to verify the reports.

"According to available information, the Ukrainian side shot at a detention centre where members of the Azov battalion were held, using American HIMARS launch rocket systems," Russia's Investigative Committee said in a statement.

"As a result, several dozen people were killed," investigators said, adding that the exact toll was being clarified.

The Investigative Committee, which usually handles major crimes, said a criminal probe had been launched.

The Russian defence ministry said that the jail in Olenivka, in the separatist-held region of Donetsk, was targeted overnight.

The defence ministry said 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed and 75 wounded, adding that eight employees of the jail were also injured.

Denis Pushilin, leader of the Donetsk separatists, put the death toll at 47 people. Territorial defence forces of the separatist statelet said that 53 people died.

Russian television showed what appeared to be destroyed barracks and tangled metal beds.

It also showed blurred images of what looked like human bodies.

A total of 193 people were held in the jail at the time of the strike, Pushilin said in comments broadcast on Russian state television.

The Russian defence ministry said the Ukrainian prisoners of war included members of the Azov battalion, who defended the Azovstal plant in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol.

Russia describes the former paramilitary unit, which has previous links to far-right groups, as a neo-Nazi organisation.

Moscow claimed that the "bloody provocation of the Kyiv regime" was designed to discourage Ukrainian troops from laying down their arms and surrendering.

"This egregious provocation was carried out to intimidate Ukrainian servicemen," the defence ministry said.

Pushilin, the Donetsk leader, claimed Kyiv forces struck the jail because Ukrainian prisoners of war had begun to testify.

After a weeks-long siege and resistance at the Azovstal steel plant, the last stronghold of Mariupol, around 2,500 Ukrainian fighters surrendered in May.

Categories : World
AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.