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ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — The city council of Mariupol, on the southeastern coast of Ukraine, said Thursday that three people, including a child, were killed when a Russian airstrike hit a maternity hospital, while 17 people — among them children, women and medical staff — were injured.

“Russian troops purposefully and ruthlessly destroy the civilian population of Mariupol,” the city council said on Telegram. “The whole world should know about Russia’s crime against humanity, against Ukraine and against the people of Mariupol!”

As many as 1,300 people have died in Mariupol since Russian forces besieged the city, according to Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the Mariupol mayor’s office. At least 3,000 have been injured, he said.

“Nine days without food, warmth, and dead bodies everywhere on the street,” he told The Post. “What can be worse than this? The only hospital that’s left [is] filled to the brim with people.”

With the city cut off from the outside world, the figures were not possible to independently verify. If accurate, they could represent a stark increase in the human toll of the conflict. As of Wednesday, the United Nations said 516 civilians were confirmed killed and more than 900 injured in the Russian invasion, tolls it acknowledges are incomplete. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights noted recent “allegations of hundreds of civilian casualties” in Mariupol and other cities but said those figures were not included in its tally and “are being further corroborated.”

Ukrainian officials had accused Russian forces of shelling the city for days, but early Wednesday they said that Russia had agreed to a local cease-fire to evacuate civilians from Mariupol and eight other places. (It was not clear whether Russia had agreed to the evacuation routes.)

Andryushchenko said rescue workers were not able to pull bodies from the streets in some areas because of the security situation. For days, local authorities and the Red Cross have been attempting to organize a humanitarian corridor out of Mariupol. But they say the route has been mined. “The only problem is that the Russians don’t want to guarantee safety,” he said. “There is bombardment and shooting.”

Hours before the airstrike on the maternity hospital, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Ukrainian forces of using the hospital as cover for launching military attacks. She alleged that “in Mariupol, the Ukrainian national battalions, having expelled the staff and patients from the maternity hospital, equipped combat positions in it.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned as an “atrocity” a Russian airstrike that tore through a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol on March 9. (AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the airstrike an “atrocity.”

“What kind of country is this, the Russian Federation, which is afraid of hospitals and maternity hospitals and destroys them?” he said in a video address late Wednesday.

The attack drew international condemnation. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said details about the incident were scarce but called it a “horrifying” example of “the barbaric use of military force to go after innocent civilians in a sovereign country.”

Timsit reported from London.





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