KYIV: A Russian missile strike on a crowded mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk killed at least 13 people yesterday, the regional governor said, sparking international outrage.

“The Russian strike today on the shopping centre in Kremenchuk is one of the most brazen terrorist acts in European history,” Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening broadcast posted on Telegram.

Dmytro Lunin, the governor of the Poltava region where Kremenchuk is located, said the death toll had risen from 10 to at least 13, with more than 40 people wounded.

Earlier, Zelensky had said “over a thousand civilians” were in the mall when the missiles struck the city, which had a pre-war population of 220,000 people.

“The mall is on fire, rescuers are fighting the fire. The number of victims is impossible to imagine,” Zelensky wrote on Facebook.

A video shared by the Ukraine president showed the mall engulfed in flames with dozens of rescuers and a fire truck outside.

Emergency services also published images showing the smouldering remains of the building, with firefighters and rescuers trying to clear the debris.

The Ukrainian defence ministry said the strike was deliberately timed to coincide with the mall’s busiest hours and cause the maximum number of victims.

Growing international outrage

The Ukrainian air force said the mall was hit by Kh-22 anti-ship missiles fired from Tu-22 bombers from the region of Kursk in western Russia.

“The missile fire on Kremenchuk struck a very busy area which had no link to the hostilities,” the city’s mayor Vitali Maletsky wrote on Facebook.

Lunin denounced the attack as a “war crime” and a “crime against humanity”, saying it was a “cynical act of terror against the civilian population”.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba called on Kyiv’s allies to supply more heavy weapons and impose fresh sanctions on Russia.

“Russia is a disgrace to humanity and it must face consequences,” he wrote on Twitter.

Presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak accused Russia of being a “terrorist state”.

There was also growing international outrage at the attack.

A statement from the G7 leaders gathered for a summit in Germany condemned the missile strike as a “war crime”.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said, on Twitter, that “the world is horrified by Russia’s missile strike today, which hit a crowded Ukrainian shopping mall – the latest in a string of atrocities”.

British prime minister Boris Johnson said the attack demonstrated the “depths of cruelty and barbarism” of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

“Russia’s bombing of a shopping centre in Kremenchuk is an abomination,” French president Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter in English.

“We share the pain of the victims’ families, and the anger in the face of such an atrocity. The Russian people have to see the truth:”

Below the tweet video footage of the blazing shopping centre, black smoke pouring off it, was posted. — AFP