Everything we know about the Ukraine pizza place strike that killed twin sisters

Ukraine: Civilians killed after missile strike in Kramatorsk

The Russian missile attack on a pizza restaurant in the city of Kramatorsk has stunned people in Ukraine and around the world.

Authorities in the city in eastern Ukraine say that at least 11 people, including three teenagers, were killed and more than 60 others injured.

They named 14-year-old twins Yuliya and Anna Aksenchenko as among the victims of the outrage, which also claimed the life of a 17-year-old girl.

In a Telegram post, the city’s council extended its condolences to the parents of the girls, saying that “a Russian rocket stopped the beating of the hearts of two angels”.

It added: “We share the grief of your family and together with you we bow our heads in deep sorrow.”

READ MORE: Heroic boy’s heartbreaking final message before being executed by Russians

Russia has denied targeting the crowded restaurant, but that claim has been dismissed by Ukraine and western governments.

So, what do we know about this latest attack on a city that had previously suffered heartache when an attack on its railway station killed dozens of people last year?

Why Kramatorsk?

Kramatorsk is a major city west of the frontlines in Donetsk province and a key logistics hub.

It has been a frequent target of Russian attacks, including a strike on the railway station in April 2022 that killed dozens in one of the worst single air strikes of the war.

Police say that Iskander short-range ballistic missiles were used in the attack, although Russia responded by saying it does not target civilian sites.

The Donetsk region is one of four Ukrainian provinces that Russia claimed to annex last September.

However, its forces do not fully control any areas and the Ukrainian-held sections have been hit hard by Russian bombardment.

Kyiv recently launched a counteroffensive to take back the occupied territory.

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What happened in Kramatorsk?

Pizza RIA was a popular restaurant with locals, aid workers and journalists. It was reportedly crowded when it was hit on Tuesday evening (June 27).

Authorities said the strike turned the restaurant into a pile of twisted beams, and emergency services posted pictures online of rescue teams sifting through the rubble in search of victims.

Valentyna, 64, who declined to give her surname, told Reuters: “I ran here after the explosion because I rented a cafe here… everything had been blown out there.

“None of the glass, windows or doors are left. All I see is destruction, fear and horror. This is the 21st century.”

Is the search and rescue operation continuing?

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the Donetsk regional governor, said that people were still visible under the rubble.

He said their condition was not known but added: “We are experienced in removing rubble”.

Eight people had been rescued alive from the rubble and at least three more were believed to be trapped.

Veronika Bakha, spokeswoman for the Donetsk region emergency services said the attack also damaged 18 multi-story buildings, 65 houses, five schools, two kindergartens, a shopping center, an administrative building and a recreational building.

Was this the only strike on Kramatorsk?

No. A second missile hit a village on the fringes of the city around the same time, injuring five people.

Have there been other strikes this week?

Yes. A Russian missile hit buildings in Kremenchuk, 230 miles west of Kramatorsk, a year after an attack on a shopping mall in the city killed at least 20 people.

No casualties were reported in the that attack but on Wednesday morning (June 28) the head of the Kharkiv region said three civilians were killed in another shelling.

“Three civilians in the village of Vovchanski Khutory were killed near their homes,” governor Oleh Synehubov wrote on Telegram.

What has been the Ukraine response?

Authorities have arrested a man they say helped to direct the missile strike. The Security Service of Ukraine alleges that the man filmed the restaurant and informed the Russians of its popularity.

Vasyl Malyuk, head of the Security Service of Ukraine, said in a statement: “The agent of the Russian Federation will definitely answer to the Ukrainian court.

“But his detention is also a signal to all other adjusters and traitors who work for the enemy. Remember – punishment is inevitable!”

What has Volodymyr Zelensky said?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video message that the attacks showed Russia “deserved only one thing as a consequence of what it has done – defeat and a tribunal”.

Ukraine has been gathering evidence and is pushing for a war crimes tribunal.

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