Ukraine war: Every family in Hroza village affected by missile attack

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People from every family in Ukraine’s north-eastern village of Hroza have been affected by a missile attack that killed 51 people on Thursday, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko has said.

An eight-year-old boy was among the victims when a cafe was hit during a wake in the Kharkiv region.

“From every household there were people present”, Mr Klymenko said.

Ukraine’s defence ministry blamed Russia for the attack, and said there were no military targets in the area.

Russia has not directly commented on the strike.

But Russia’s state news agency Ria Novosti reported that the Russian military had carried out 20 air and artillery strikes on Ukrainian targets in the Kupyansk district – where Hroza village is located. It did not say when the strikes were carried our or mention the village of Hroza.

Russia went on to launch missile strikes on the city of Kharkiv itself in the early hours of Friday, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.

Speaking to Ukrainian TV, he said a 10-year-old boy was killed when a residential building was hit. More than 20 others were injured.

The mayor added that Russia likely used Iskander ballistic missiles in the latest attack.

Residents of the Hroza village had been attending the funeral of a Ukrainian soldier, who was a local resident, when the missile struck on Thursday.

The Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted local prosecutor Dmytro Chubenko as saying that the man’s widow was among the dead, as well as their son and daughter-in-law.

The soldier had previously been buried in Dnipro, but his relatives said they wanted to rebury him in his home village.

People who had attended the service were sitting down for a meal when the missile hit the cafe that also served as a grocery store in the village, officials said.

Speaking to Ukrainian TV, Mr Klymenko said that Hroza had had the population of 330 residents before the Russian attack.

He said “every family, every household” was represented by at least one person at the wake.

Preliminary information suggested that an Iskander missile hit the building, the minister added.

Kharkiv regional head Oleh Syniehubov described the attack as one of the region’s “bloodiest crimes”.

“One fifth of this village has died in a single terrorist attack,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the act “couldn’t even be called a beastly act – because it would be an insult to beasts”.

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Three days of morning have been declared in the Kharkiv region, starting from Friday.

Local residents at the site of a military strike in the village of Hroza, north-eastern Ukraine on 5 October 2023. A man is seen in the foreground sitting on a concrete ledge amid a patch of grass.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World Tonight, Maria Avdeeva, a Ukrainian security analyst and journalist, said someone may have told the Russian military about the wake.

“We can presume that someone give out the information about the place and the time of the gathering of these people,” she said.

“From what we see now on Russian propaganda channels, they circulate information that there were military gathering for the funeral, which is false and untrue because this were mainly a civilian ceremony.”

The attack has also led to international condemnation.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the attack “demonstrated the depths of depravity Russian forces are willing to sink to”. His comments came after he had earlier met Mr Zelensky on Thursday at a summit in Spain for the European Political Community, an intergovernmental forum established last year partly in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre described the strike as “horrifying” and said it demonstrated why it was so important the Ukrainian people continued to receive international support.

The incident comes as opposition to continued funding for Ukraine is facing growing opposition in the US House of Representatives.

The Kupyansk district has been on the front line of clashes between Russian and Ukrainian armies since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

It was a major supply hub for Russian forces at the start of the war, but Kyiv recaptured it in September 2022 after months of fighting.

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