Europe

Ukraine war: Kyiv forces accused of killing two in Kherson hotel strike

Pro-Kremlin authorities have accused Ukrainian forces of killing two people, including a former MP, in a missile strike on a hotel in occupied Kherson.

A regional official said Oleksiy Zhuravko, a pro-Russian former Ukrainian lawmaker, died in the strike.

Kirill Stremousov said in a statement that Ukrainian armed forces fired a missile on the Play Hotel by Ribas at 05:30 (03:30 BST) on Sunday.

Kyiv has not responded to the claims.

The Russian-installed administration said in a post on Telegram that this “was a planned terrorist act”, adding that the building of the hotel was not used for military purposes.

The statement said that two people were killed in the attack according to “preliminary information”.

The authorities said journalists from Russian media were in the hotel when the missile struck, news agency AFP reports. These claims could not be independently verified.

A representative of the law enforcement agencies in the region was quoted by the TASS news agency as saying that the attack “was clearly carried out with the help of Nato representatives, according to their intelligence and on their tip”.

Rescue workers were said to be combing the rubble in search of victims at the hotel, located in the centre of the southern Ukrainian city.

The strike comes as Kherson – one of the first places to come under Moscow’s control after the invasion – is taking part in a so-called referendum, asking people if they want to join Russia. As well as Kherson, people in Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia have also been casting their ballots since Friday and voting is due to finish on Tuesday.

The West and Kyiv have condemned the votes as “shams” and pledged not to recognise their results. There have also been reports of armed Russian soldiers going door-to-door to collect votes.

The votes come after Ukrainian forces launched a large-scale counter-offensive in the south. Last month, Ukraine’s military said it had broken through Russia’s first line of defence.

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