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Several blasts in Ukrainian capital after early morning air raids

Air strikes carried out exactly a week after Russia bombarded Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities with missiles.

Russian drone strikes in central Kyiv during morning rush hour have killed four people, the mayor says.

The deaths on Monday included a woman who was six months pregnant and her partner, who were killed when a “kamikaze” drone hit a block of flats on the edge of central Kyiv’s Shevchenkivskyi district, Vitali Klitschko said.

Explosions and gunfire echoed across Kyiv as security forces tried to shoot down the drones.

Klitschko first reported explosions in Shevchenkivskyi early on Monday in a Telegram post. He said a number of residential buildings had been damaged.

“Rescuers are at the site,” Klitschko said, adding that the attack had caused a fire to break out in a non-residential building.

Thick smoke billowed up from the district, and firefighters picked through rubble after the side of an apartment block collapsed. Rubble continued to tumble to the ground even as they dug.

Ukrainian officials say Russia has been attacking central Kyiv with kamikaze drones.

Video footage on social media showed drones in the skies above the city, along with a number of explosions ⤵️

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— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 17, 2022

Journalists from the Agence France-Presse news agency reported two explosions at 6:35 and 6:45am (03:35 and 03:45 GMT) shortly after air raid sirens sounded. Witnesses told the Reuters news agency that there were two blasts.

The Shevchenkivskyi area is a busy part of Kyiv with universities, bars and restaurants. It was hit with several missiles a week ago as part of a Russian bombardment of Ukraine’s major cities. Russian President Vladimir Putin said those air strikes were carried out in retaliation for an attack on the strategically important Kerch Strait Bridge, which links Russia with the occupied Crimean Peninsula.

Last week’s attacks were the heaviest air strikes Russia has conducted against Ukraine since the early days of its February 24 invasion.

smoke in the street and firefighters at work after a drone strike on kyiv
Kyiv was hit by a number of explosions on Monday, which local officials said were carried out by drones [Gleb Garanich/Reuters]

Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president’s staff, said the latest attacks were carried out with drones.

“Russians think this will help them, but such actions are just their convulsions,” Yermak said on Telegram.

Ukraine has reported a spate of Russian attacks with Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones in recent weeks. Iran denies supplying the drones to Russia while the Kremlin has not commented. It denies targeting civilians.

The latest raids were carried out as Ukrainian and Russian forces are engaged in what Moscow described as “fierce fighting” in the regions of Kherson in the south and Donetsk in the east.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said “the enemy terrorises the civilian population” with kamikaze drones and missiles.

Ukraine’s national grid operator said energy infrastructure in central and northern Ukraine had been hit but the power system remained operational.

Russia said it had hit military targets and energy infrastructure.

In Kyiv, a Reuters reporter saw pieces of a drone that had been used in the attacks and bore the words “For Belgorod”.

The governor of the Russian region of Belgorod, which is on the border with Ukraine, has accused Ukrainian forces of repeatedly shelling it.

In the city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, a drone hit the Everi marine terminal late on Sunday, damaging sunflower oil storage tanks and causing a fire, said Andriy, a senior manager who declined to give his last name.

It was the second attack on the storage facility on the Buh River since June, he said.

“This is an entirely civilian facility. There is no military,” he said, suggesting Russia was seeking to “destroy the economy and to destroy food security”.

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