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Attack near Ukraine nuclear plant kills 13

The International Atomic Energy Agency says both sides in the war between Russia and Ukraine risk a nuclear disaster if fighting continues at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

August 10, 2022
By AAP With Reuters
10 August 2022

Ukraine has accused Russia of exploiting its position in the nuclear power plant it seized to target a nearby town in a rocket attack that killed at least 13 people and left many others seriously wounded.

The town – Marhanets – is one that Russia has alleged Ukrainian forces have previously used to shell Russian troops holed up at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant which they took over in March.

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of risking the safety of the vast plant – Europe’s largest – by attacking one another in its vicinity.

A general view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control in southeastern Ukraine. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP, File)

Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has urged both sides to exercise restraint, warning of the “very real risk of a nuclear disaster”.

And foreign ministers from the Group of Seven leading industrialised countries on Wednesday demanded that Russia immediately hand back control of the plant to Ukraine, something Moscow seems unlikely to do.

Moscow says it does not deliberately target civilians in what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine aimed at pre-emptively safeguarding its own security against expansion of the NATO military alliance.

Andriy Yermak, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, accused Russia of launching attacks on Ukrainian towns with impunity from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the knowledge that it was risky for Ukraine to fight back.

Smoke rises from the front lines where fierce battle is going between Ukrainian and Russian troops in the Dnipropetrovsk region. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

“Eighty reactive rockets fired at residential buildings,” Yermak wrote on the Telegram messaging service, referring to the attack on Marhanets.

“The terrorist nation is continuing to fight against civilians. The cowardly Russians can’t do anything more so they strike towns ignobly hiding at the Zaporizhzhia atomic power station”, he wrote.

Ukraine, which accuses Moscow of waging an unprovoked imperial-style war of aggression, says around 500 Russian troops with heavy vehicles and weapons are stationed at the plant, where Ukrainian technicians continue to work.

Russia says its forces are behaving responsibly and doing everything they can to ensure the facility’s safety. Moscow has accused Ukrainian forces of shelling the plant, something Kyiv denies.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met with military officials during his visit to the war-hit Dnipropetrovsk region. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP, File)

Valentyn Reznychenko, governor of Ukraine’s central Dnipropetrovsk region, said on Wednesday that the Russian attack on Marhanets was carried out with 80 Grad rockets.

More than 20 buildings had been damaged in the town, which is located on the other side of the Dnipro river from the power plant, he said.

The same attack damaged a power line, leaving several thousand people without electricity, he added. A hostel, two schools, a concert hall, the main council building and other administrative buildings had been hit too, he said.

Images supplied by Ukrainian officials showed the rubble-strewn corridor of a school that had apparently been hit with its windows blown out and a residential building pierced by a rocket.

Rising smoke can be seen from the beach at Saky after explosions were heard from the direction of a Russian military airbase near Novofedorivka in Crimea. (UGC via AP)

The origin of a series of explosions at a Russian air base in Russian-annexed Crimea a day earlier remained contested, with Moscow saying ammunition stores had detonated and Ukrainian officials hinting Kyiv may have been responsible.

Two US newspapers cited unnamed Ukrainian officials as saying that Ukrainian special forces had carried out an attack on the air base, which had resulted in the destruction of Russian military aircraft there.

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