Advertisement

Russian airstrike killed 300 at Ukraine theater packed with civilians, officials say

A satellite image shows the aftermath of the March 16 airstrike on the Mariupol Drama Theater in Mariupol, Ukraine. The besieged southern port city of Mariupol has seen Russian bombardments for weeks. Photo by Maxar Technologies via EPA-EFE 
A satellite image shows the aftermath of the March 16 airstrike on the Mariupol Drama Theater in Mariupol, Ukraine. The besieged southern port city of Mariupol has seen Russian bombardments for weeks. Photo by Maxar Technologies via EPA-EFE 

March 25 (UPI) -- Ukrainian government officials said on Friday that a Russian airstrike last week that destroyed a theater in Mariupol, which was being used as a makeshift bomb shelter, killed hundreds of people -- which would make it the single deadliest strike on a civilian target since the start of the war a month ago.

The Mariupol city council said that the strike killed about 300 people at the theater-turned-shelter on March 16. For weeks, Russian forces have been trying to capture the key port city in southern Ukraine.

Advertisement

Ukrainian officials have said that some 1,300 civilians sought safety in the Mariupol Drama Theater -- which prominently displayed the Russian word for "children" painted in large letters outside the building so as to dissuade an attack.

"There is information, based on eyewitnesses, that about 300 people died in the Drama Theater in Mariupol as a result of a bombing by Russian aircraft," the city council said, according to CNN. ""We still do not want to believe in this horror.

"We still want to believe that everyone managed to escape. But the words of those who were inside the building at the time of this terrorist act say otherwise."

Advertisement

If the toll was 300, it's believed that the strike would be the deadliest Russian attack against a civilian target since the war began Feb. 24.

Mariupol city officials accused Russian forces of inhuman cruelty, saying that they knew civilians and children were housed in the building and the theater's large red roof made it easy to distinguish from other structures in the city.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the theater bombing has become a common characteristic in Moscow's war against Ukraine.

"We've seen numerous credible reports indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities," Blinken said Wednesday, according to The Hill.

"Russia's forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded."

Officials said after the attack last week that more than 100 people survived the airstrike and made it to another safe location.

Latest Headlines