1 of 4 | Black smoke billows from a fire on the Kerch Bridge that links Crimea to Russia, after a truck exploded on Oct. 8, 2022. Photo by Vladimir Mordunov/UPI. | License Photo
Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Intelligence authorities in Moscow have announced the arrest of eight suspects in connection with a bridge explosion that killed at least three people while knocking out a critical supply line connecting mainland Russia to Crimea.
Five Russians were among those taken into custody while the other suspects were described as Ukrainian and Armenian, said a statement by the FSB, which is Russia's version of the CIA.
The intelligence agency did not reveal other details but did echo allegations made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has continued to blame the Kyiv government for the deadly blast on the 12-mile Kerch Bridge, where a truck exploded Saturday and ignited a huge fire.
Since Monday, Russia has unleashed a barrage of deadly retaliatory airstrikes throughout Ukraine, the latest which happened Wednesday as seven people were reportedly killed and eight other injured at a market in the eastern town of Avdiivka.
Shelling in Nikopol, in the Dnipro region, seriously injured three civilians, including a 6-year-old girl, according to a spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
A missile destroyed a residential building in a suburb of the city of Zaporizhzhia, according to Ukraine's Emergency Ministry. Officials have not yet determined the number of casualties but a family was reportedly pulled from the wreckage.
Now entering its third day, the bombardment has so far killed six people in the capital of Kyiv, while at least 19 civilians had died in numerous strikes across the country. Hundreds more were reported injured or wounded in dozens of regions.
Five large explosions were also reported Wednesday in Kherson, where the Ukrainian military has gained more ground in recent days, threatening to retake the city after waylaying five other Russian positions in the region.
Experts say the attack on the Kerch Bridge represents a serious blow to Putin, who proudly appeared at the span for its grand opening in 2018, following Russia's contentious annexation of Crimea four years earlier.
Putin called the blast an "act of terrorism" which targeted Russia's critical infrastructure, while the Russian intelligence agency specifically blamed "the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, its head Kyrylo Budanov, its staff and agents," according to NBC.
Analysts believe Putin has become more desperate in Ukraine following embarrassing defeats on the battlefield that have put his soldiers on the run in many regions they had captured only weeks before.