Deadliest Attack Claims 17 Lives in Ukrainian City of Kostyantynivka Amid Tensions with Russia

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In a horrifying turn of events, Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has vehemently denounced an intentional assault on Ukraine’s tranquil city, Kostyantynivka. The blast, which abruptly erupted on a bustling market street in broad daylight, claimed the lives of at least 17 innocent citizens, including a child.

Situated in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, Kostyantynivka is perilously close to the discordant front line. Social media platforms are ablaze with footages of a vivid orange blast at the end of a street teeming with shoppers. Russian officials have so far remained silent on the incident.

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Emphasizing the innocence of the victims, President Zelensky, a vocal critic of Moscow, expressed fears of a spike in the death toll. In his view, any interactions with Russia require an acceptance of the audaciousness of evil. The grisly attack is suspected to have injured a further 33 people, causing a fire that has since been extinguished. Its impact was widespread, damaging a market, pharmacy and several local shops.

Recordings and images flood the internet, depicting both the powerful explosion and its shockingly graphic aftermath. The devastating incident, one of the deadliest targeting Ukrainian civilians since spring, took place on a busy street, where people had gathered at market stalls and café terraces around 14:00 local time.

Confirming the completion of a search and rescue operation, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko offered an update. Narrating her firsthand experience, Diana Khodak, a local shop owner, recounted how an abrupt “flash” of light prompted her to caution colleagues and customers to “lie on the floor.” Reports describe how soldiers carried away a woman who suffered an “open fracture with exposed bone.”

Terming the attack “utter inhumanity,” President Zelensky underlined the horrific cruelty felt by his wife Olena Zelenska. An investigation has already been initiated by Ukraine’s prosecutor-general, intent on recording potential violations of war laws and customs under “criminal proceedings.”

Kostyantynivka, nestled near the battlefield, has experienced numerous destructive incidents this year. A horrifying attack on 2nd April resulted in six civilian deaths, causing extensive damage to 16 apartment blocks and a nursery school. In May, an assault employing Smerch rockets took the lives of two individuals, including a 15-year-old girl. July witnessed another dreadful attack that claimed the lives of three children. It lies a mere 17 miles from the Donetsk-region city of Bakhmut, known for its relentless and intense fighting.

Reverberations of the attack were felt as far as the city of Donetsk, under Russia’s proxy authorities since 2014; ever since, it has levied repeated accusations of targeting by Ukrainian forces, fueling the fire of a war that ignited last February.

The attack ominously coincided with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Ukraine, where he met with President Zelensky and other senior officials. Preceding his arrival, sirens echoed throughout the country with missiles targeting Kyiv intercepted by the city’s air defense system. During his fourth visit in 18 months, Mr. Blinken announced an additional US aid package for war-ravaged Ukraine, amounting to over $1bn.