Over 50 killed in Russian rocket attack on village as people gathered for wake

Rescue workers were pictured searching through the still-smoking rubble following the attack on a café and store in the village of just over 300 people, ITV News' Sangita Lal reports

More than 50 civilians have been killed in a Russian rocket strike on a village in eastern Ukraine as people gathered for a wake in a local café.

Thursday's attack on Hroza was denounced by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a "completely deliberate act of terrorism" and a "demonstrably brutal Russian crime".

It is one of the deadliest strikes on the country in recent months, with Zelenskyy urging Western allies to help strengthen his country's air defences to put a stop to "Russian terror".

Rescue workers were pictured searching through the still-smoking rubble following the attack on a café attached to a store in the village of just over 300 people, which was recaptured by Ukrainian troops last year.

Around 60 people were thought to have attended the wake when Russian forces struck the village, while others were inside the shop.

Ihor Klymenko, Ukraine's Minister of Internal Affairs, added that six people had been left seriously injured by the strike - made around 1.25pm.

Ihor Klymenko, Ukraine's Minister of Internal Affairs, gives an update on Thursday's missile attack

Presidential chief of staff Andrii Yermak and Kharkiv governor Oleh Syniehubov confirmed that a six-year-old girl was among the 52 dead.

Meanwhile the United Nation's Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said it had identified the names of 35 of those killed, including 19 women, 15 men, and an 8-year-old boy.

It added that one Ukrainian soldier who was attending his father’s funeral was among those killed.

Firefighters worked to extinguish the burning wreckage. Credit: AP

“Russia needs this and similar terrorist attacks for only one thing: to make its genocidal aggression the new norm for the whole world,” Zelenskyy said following the bombardment.

“Now we are talking with European leaders, in particular, about strengthening our air defense, strengthening our soldiers, giving our country protection from terror. And we will respond to the terrorists.”

Saviano Abreu, spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the people of Ukraine were forced to witness "another barbaric consequence of Russia’s invasion".

He added: "Intentionally directing an attack against civilians or civilian objects is a war crime. Intentionally launching an attack knowing that it would be disproportionate is a war crime."

The attack came as Zelenskyy tried to drum up support from European leaders at a summit in Granada. Credit: AP

The attack came as Zelenskyy was in Granada, southern Spain, attending a summit of the European Political Community - an intergovernmental forum formed in response to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“The key for us, especially before winter, is to strengthen air defense, and there is already a basis for new agreements with partners,” he said in a statement posted on his Telegram channel.

Last winter, Russia targeted Ukraine's energy system and other vital infrastructure in a steady barrage of missile and drone attacks, triggering continuous power outages across the country.

Ukraine's power system has shown a high degree of resilience and flexibility, but concerns remain that Vladimir Putin's forces will intensify their efforts as winter draws nearer.

Zelenskyy noted the Granada summit will also focus on “joint work for global food security and protection of freedom of navigation” in the Black Sea.

Russia was accused of a 'war crime' by launching such an intentionally disproportionate attack. Credit: AP

Food supplies across the world were impacted in July when Moscow withdrew from a UN-sponsored deal designed to ensure safe grain exports from Ukraine's ports.

The UK Foreign Office cited intelligence suggesting that Russia may lay sea mines in the approach to Ukrainian ports to target civilian shipping and blame it on Ukraine.

“Russia almost certainly wants to avoid openly sinking civilian ships, instead falsely laying blame on Ukraine for any attacks against civilian vessels in the Black Sea,” it said, adding that the UK was working with Ukraine to help improve the safety of shipping.

Earlier on Thursday Russia targeted Ukraine's southern regions with drones, with Ukraine's air force claiming that air defences intercepted 24 of 29 Iranian-made drones sent to the Odesa, Mykolaiv and Kirovohrad regions.

Andriy Raykovych, head of the Kirovohrad regional administration, said infrastructure was struck but that there were no casualties.

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