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Two killed, 10 wounded in eastern Ukraine

AFP . Kramatorsk
19 Mar 2023 12:16:20 | Update: 19 Mar 2023 12:45:26
Two killed, 10 wounded in eastern Ukraine
Paramedics evacuate a heavily injured man after a cluster bomb strike in Kramatorsk in the Donbas region on March 18, 2023 — AFP Photo

Russian strikes killed two people and wounded 10 in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on Saturday, a regional governor said, accusing Moscow of using cluster bombs in the attack.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of Donetsk region -- where Kramatorsk is located -- said on his official Telegram channel that Russian forces had targeted a park and damaged "a dozen residential buildings", and fired "cluster munitions". 

"They purposefully hit the city, trying to kill as many of its civilians as possible," Kyrylenko said. 

AFP journalists on the ground heard around 10 explosions go off nearly simultaneously just before 4:00 pm (1400 GMT) and saw smoke above a park in the southern part of the city. 

A woman died at the scene from her wounds, they saw.

Soon after, another round of explosions was heard in a neighbourhood two kilometres (one mile) away. 

A taxi driver was seriously wounded in that blast.

"She came to see me briefly. I told her goodbye, closed the door and a few seconds later, I heard the explosions," said Lena, 46. "I was lucky to be inside with my daughter when all this happened."

Kramatorsk Mayor Oleksandr Goncharenko confirmed that two people had been killed by cluster bombs. 

"Russia continues to spread terror," he wrote in a Facebook post.

A UN treaty backed by most Western countries bans the use and transfer of cluster bombs, which spread dozens of tiny explosives, often posing a threat long after a conflict ends. 

Russia and Ukraine have not signed the treaty and the United Nations has voiced alarm over Moscow's alleged use of cluster munitions in populated areas since it invaded Ukraine last year.

The strikes marked the second time Kramatorsk was targeted in a week. On Tuesday, one person died and three people were wounded after a strike on residential buildings.

Kramatorsk is located in the eastern industrial region of Donetsk, parts of which, including its largest city, have been controlled by Kremlin-backed separatists since 2014.

In April 2022, a missile strike killed around 60 people at the Kramatorsk train station, in one of the deadliest attacks targeting civilians.

Moscow has been seeking to capture the entire region after declaring it part of Russia last year.