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GRAPHIC: Russians continue to target civilians in Mykolaiv with cluster bombs, kill 5, wound 7
MYKOLAIV — Russia continues to bombard residential areas of Mykolaiv, Ukraine’s major shipbuilding city 50 kilometers west of the front line.
At 9.45 a.m., on July 29, Russian cluster munition killed at least five people and injured at least seven more. Those killed and injured were standing in a small square next to a bus stop.
Anna, 40, who lives nearby, told the Kyiv Independent that the square was crowded because it was a bread distribution point.
“There was an explosion - people began to fall, some began to lie down, some tried to hide behind the trees,” she said.
“People came running from the side where they gave out bread, saying there are five dead and a lot of injured,” Anna added.
In the background, two aging volunteers were still clearing the lifeless bodies of a man and a woman, lying near a pool of blood and a shattered-glass car.
A white van with a “Gruz 200” sign, the military code for “dead bodies,” was parked on the site of the Russian attack, leaving no doubt about the everyday tragedy that unfolded this morning.
“I hope the people who pushed the button are aware of the sorrow they bring,” Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Sienkevych said following the attack.
Oleksiy, a 60-year-old local resident, told the Kyiv Independent on the site that he was standing outside and went into the basement as the air raid sirens went on. Immediately after he went inside the city was bombarded.
“One explosion and another. And then there was dust. And glass and debris flew everywhere. And the explosions went on. I didn’t even count, you know, it’s somehow so spontaneous, you can’t count,” he said.
Read also: Villages destroyed, people killed as Russians bombard Ukraine’s south
After the explosions stopped, Oleksiy says he went outside and saw that four people were lying.
“They just laid there without moving. One man was behind the poplars, right here, right there,” Oleksiy showed around the square.
Oleksiy says that multiple explosions were caused by cluster munition, something later confirmed by local authorities.
Serhiy Matvienko, a doctor responsible for the wounded, told the Kyiv Independent that most injured are in intensive care. Three teams of specialists had to be called to Hospital number five, located not far from the bombardment.
Matvienko says the wounds resulted from an attack carried out with cluster bombs, set to do maximum damage during a busy morning.
“The bombardment took place in a crowded place, on a weekday, with many people,” he said.
Among the injured, a father and his daughter have been admitted to intensive care.
“The father covered his daughter during the explosion; he is more seriously injured. He is now in the operating room,” Matvienko said. The 21-year-old daughter has an open fracture of the femur.
They were walking their dog when the bomb hit. The dog was killed on the spot.
Mykolaiv, home to 480,000 people before the war, has been witnessing intense bombing since the early days of Russia's full-scale invasion.
On July 19, Sienkevych had already reported that Russian forces had bombed the same Korabelnyi District, injuring two with cluster bombs.
Siren alerts blare out almost every hour, with Russians usually hitting the city in the morning.
Read also: What would a Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kherson look like?
For Mykolaiv Oblast Governor Vitaliy Kim, it’s payback for Ukraine’s firm resistance and potential counter-offensive efforts in the neighboring Kherson Oblast.
“Russians are going crazy because they’re under pressure,” he said on July 29.
Ukrainian troops are eager to return the neighboring Russian-occupied Kherson, located 60 kilometers east of Mykolaiv.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said the military must establish a plan to de-occupy Ukraine’s south as its seaside regions are vital to the national economy, Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in a recent interview.
Ukraine has already launched small-scale campaigns in Kherson Oblast to counter Russia’s large-scale offensive in the Donbas.
As a result, Ukraine has retaken 44 villages and towns previously occupied by Russia, according to Ukraine’s military administration in Kherson Oblast.
Read also: Families flee Russian occupation in southern Ukraine: ‘I thought I would never see my daughter again’