• Missile attack kills at least 25 – Ukrainian officials
  • The dead civilians were planning to enter Russian-held territory
  • Police say at least three missiles were involved in the attack

ZAPORIZZIA, Ukraine, Sept 30 (Reuters) – A Russian missile attack on a convoy of civilian vehicles in southern Ukraine on Friday left dozens of civilians dead or injured and bodies scattered on the ground, Kyiv said.

The convoy had gathered at a car market on the edge of the city of Zaporizhia, preparing to leave Kiev-held Ukrainian territory to visit relatives and deliver supplies to Russian-held territory, officials said.

A Reuters witness said the impact of the missile attack had blown out car windows and sprayed the sides with cones.

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A body was leaning from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat of a yellow car, left hand still gripping the steering wheel.

“The enemy is raging and seeking revenge for our stability and its failure. It quietly destroys the Ukrainian people because it lost everything human a long time ago,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

“Bloodthirsty scum! You will surely answer. For every Ukrainian life lost!”

The governor of Zaporizhia province, Oleksandr Starukh, gave initial reports that 23 were killed and 28 wounded in the attack, hours before President Vladimir Putin declared Russian rule over Zaporizhia and three other provinces seized by Moscow since its invasion of Ukraine.

Andriy Yermak, the head of Zelensky’s office, later said the attack was carried out by a “terrorist state”, killing 25 and wounding 50.

Russia has denied deliberately targeting civilians. Vladimir Rogov, an official in the Russian-installed administration of the Zaporizhia region, blamed the attack on Ukrainian forces.

The car market was hit by three S300 missiles, said police colonel Sergey Uzryumov, head of the Zaporizhia police department’s explosive disposal unit.

Uzryumov told Reuters that the Russian army knows that columns are formed here to move into occupied territory. They had coordination.

“This is not a random strike. It is completely deliberate,” he said.

Dead bodies on the ground

The vehicles were loaded with passengers’ luggage, blankets and suitcases. Plastic sheets were woven over the bodies of the woman and the youth in the green car. A dead cat lay next to the young man in the back seat.

Two bodies lay in front of another car in a white minivan, its windows blown out and its sides pockmarked with shrapnel.

An elderly woman lay dead nearby, her shopping bag beside her.

Another woman, who gave her name as Natalia, said she and her husband had gone to visit their children in Zaporizhia.

“We were returning to my 90-year-old mother. We are saved. It’s a miracle,” she said as she stood with her husband by their car.

Nikola Rusak, a 62-year-old delivery driver from the southern province of Kherson, survived the attack as he slept in a minivan parked about 20 meters (yards) from a row of automobile parts shops hit by the missile.

“I couldn’t understand what was happening,” he said. “I got out and saw people running. I was in a daze. I was standing there frozen. I didn’t know what to do,” he said.

Rusak said he slept in a vehicle for five days after dropping off relatives in Zaporizhia, waiting for a phone call to join a convoy home to care for his elderly mother.

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Reporting by Jonathan Lande Additional reporting by Alexander Vasovic Editing by Timothy Heritage, William McLean and Frances Carey

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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