Moscow and Kiev blame each other for bombing a prison

Russia and Ukraine on Friday accused each other of bombing a prison in separatist territory in eastern Ukraine. The Russian military reported 40 dead and 75 wounded in the strike at Olenivka prison, while pro-Russian separatist officials in Donetsk region put the death toll at 47 and 53, respectively.

Ukrainian forces “fired using American projectiles from the Himars system on a prison where members of the Azov Battalion are being held,” according to the Russian Intelligence Service, Russia’s main intelligence agency.

After weeks of siege and resistance at the Azovstal steel site in Mariupol, some 2,500 Ukrainian fighters surrendered in May. Russian authorities have indicated that they will be held in Olenivka prison. “This outrageous provocation is aimed at scaring Ukrainian soldiers and preventing them from surrendering,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Refusal

Ukraine immediately denied targeting civilian infrastructure or prisoners of war, insisting the military “fully adheres to the principles and standards of international humanitarian law.”

In response, Ukrainian civil servants accused the Russian military of being behind this “targeted artillery bombardment”, “accusing Ukraine of war crimes and covering up the torture of prisoners and the executions they carried out there”.

Russian state television broadcast images of burned barracks and tangles of destroyed metal beds. She showed blurry pictures of what appeared to be human bodies. AFP has not been able to verify all of these reports from independent sources.

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