Separatists say shelling killed Ukrainian prisoners of war

At least 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war captured during the fighting for Mariupol have been killed by Ukrainian shelling, Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine said.

Daniil Bezsonov, a spokesman for the Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk region, said that at least 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed and 130 were injured Friday when Ukrainian shelling hit a prison in the town of Olenivka.

There was no immediate comment from the Ukrainian authorities to the report.

The Ukrainian troops were taken prisoner after the fierce fighting for Ukraine’s Azov Sea port of Mariupol, where they holed up at the giant Azovstal steel mill for months.

The Azov Regiment and other Ukrainian units defended the steel mill for nearly three months, clinging to its underground maze of tunnels. They surrendered in May under relentless Russian attacks from the ground, sea and air.

Scores of Ukrainian soldiers were then taken to prisons in Russian-controlled areas such as the Donetsk region, a breakaway area in eastern Ukraine which is run by Russia-backed separatist authorities.

In other developments:

— Ukrainian officials said Russian forces shelled the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.

City mayor Ihor Terekhov said a central part of the northeastern city was hit, including a two-story building and a higher education institution. Terekhov said the strike occurred just after 4 a.m. on Friday.

“The State Emergency Service is already working — they are sorting out the rubble, looking for people under them,” Terekhov said in a Telegram update.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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