The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was seeking access to the site of a deadly attack on a Ukrainian prisoner of war detention facility and offered to help evacuate the wounded.
Dozens of Ukrainian prisoners were killed Friday when a prison building was destroyed in a rocket attack or explosion, for which Moscow and Kyiv blamed each other.
“The ICRC has offered to assist in evacuating the injured and funding medical supplies, protective equipment and forensic materials. Our priority right now is to ensure that the injured receive life-saving treatment and that the bodies of those killed are disposed of in a proper manner,” it said in a statement.
“We have requested access to determine the health and condition of all those present at the time of the attack. We are also contacting the family, capturing their requests and questions.”
Our thoughts are with all those who were injured or killed in the recent attack in Olenivka.
We know families who are frantically trying to find out if their loved ones are alive or have been injured or killed.
Declaration ️ https://t.co/WSDQmXDJ6Q
– ICRC (@ICRC) July 29, 2022
The Russian Defense Ministry said 40 prisoners were killed and 75 wounded in Thursday’s attack on the prison, in the front-line town of Olenivka, in part of the Donetsk region controlled by Russian-backed separatists holding.
The Ukrainian military denied carrying out the attack saying that its forces “did not carry out missile and artillery attacks in the Olenivka settlement area”.
The military blamed Russian forces for “a targeted shelling” of the detention facility, saying it was used to “accuss Ukraine of committing ‘war crimes’, as well as to conceal the investigation tons of prisoners and execution”.
A separatist spokesman put the death toll at 53 and accused Kyiv of targeting the prison with HIMARS made in the USA rocket.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the prison was home to Ukrainian prisoners and eight prison staff were also injured. Russian-backed separatist leader Denis Pushilin was quoted as saying that none of the 193 foreigners were detained.
Ukraine has accused Russia of brutality and barbarism towards civilians since February 24 Invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes. Russia has denied targeting civilians.
In a statement, the Ukrainian military said the attack was “uncoordinated by leadership” of the Russian Defense Ministry and was used to cover up “embezzlement of funds” allocated to Ukrainian prisoners of war.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter: “Russia committed another war crime by bombarding a correctional facility in occupied Olenivka where they held Ukrainian prisoners of war.”
Russia committed another war crime by shelling a correctional facility in occupied Olenivka that held Ukrainian prisoners of war. I call on all partners to strongly condemn this brutal violation of international humanitarian law and to recognize Russia as a terrorist state.
– Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) July 29, 2022
Ukraine’s forces in May ended a week long siege of Azovstalwith about 2,500 fighters surrendered after calling for a halt to their first resistance.
A spokesman for the Moscow-backed separatists told journalists that Ukraine attacked the prison after prisoners of war began talking about atrocities committed by the Ukrainian military.
Spokesman Eduard Basturin said: “Ukraine’s political leadership has decided to use the US-made HIMARS multiple launch rocket system to carry out an attack to cover up the crimes committed by Ukrainians. begin to talk about.”
Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify claims from different accounts.
Fighting in southern Ukraine
Russian attacks elsewhere in Ukraine left five people dead and seven others injured on Friday in the heavily bombed city of Mykolaiv near the southern front lines of the country, the regional governor said. know.
“They fired on another area near a public transport stop,” Governor Vitaliy Kim said in a statement on social media.
Mykolaiv, near the Black Sea, has seen about half of its estimated pre-war population of nearly 500,000 leave, and the city has been shelled daily for weeks.
It is the largest Ukrainian-controlled urban center near the front line in the Kherson region, where Kyiv’s army has waged a counter-offensive to regain control of the economically and strategically important coastal territory. comb.
Ukraine’s president said on Friday that Russian attacks on the city a day earlier had hit a humanitarian aid distribution point and wounded three people.
In the eastern Donetsk region, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko also said on Friday that Moscow’s forces had killed eight people and wounded 19 more in attacks the previous day.
Export of cereals
The prison attack comes as Ukraine wants to push for a restart of vital grain exports under a plan brokered by Turkey and the United Nations to lift a naval blockade on the Sea. Russian Black.
The President of Ukraine has released footage of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy standing in front of the Turkish ship Polarnet in the port of Chornomorsk during a visit to inspect the loaded grain.
“The first ship, the first ship is being loaded since the beginning of the war,” Zelenskyy said in a statement.
Zelenskyy said Kyiv is “waiting for signals” from Ankara and the UN to start exporting and hopes to help mitigate the global food crisis that has seen prices soar.