Russian forces shelled a small city in eastern Ukraine twice in quick succession on Monday evening, killing at least five people, including an emergency worker who was responding to the first attack, Ukrainian officials said.
At least 31 others, including a child and more than a dozen police officers, were injured in the attacks on the city, Pokrovsk, Ihor Klymenko, Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, said on the Telegram messaging app. He praised the “heroes” who were first to arrive at the site to help.
The Russian strikes hit the center of Pokrovsk twice within 40 minutes, said the head of the Donetsk regional military administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko. The number of victims could rise. Rescuers were digging through the rubble of what he said included damaged residential buildings, shops and restaurants.
The details of the attacks in the mining city in the Donetsk region, which had a prewar population of about 50,000, could not be independently verified. But Mr. Klymenko said that a rescuer, Andrii Omelchenko, 52, was killed during the second strike.
He said that Mr. Omelchenko, a deputy chief of Ukraine’s State Emergency Service in Donetsk, “gave half of his life to service.”
Long before the Ukrainian counteroffensive to reclaim Russian-occupied territory began, Donetsk and the broader Donbas region in the east were the site of some of the war’s most brutal fighting. Several Ukrainian towns about an hour’s drive from Pokrovsk, including Bakhmut and Avdiivka, have been all but obliterated.
Russia is aiming to leave “only broken and scorched stones” in the Donbas, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said on social media, where he shared footage of damaged buildings and of residents and emergency workers searching the rubble for victims. It was not clear who recorded the video, and The Times could not independently verify its details.
Mr. Zelensky recognized Mr. Omelchenko and other State Emergency Service workers by name in his nightly address, thanking them for saving Ukrainian lives.
Russian forces also struck twice in Ukraine’s eastern Kharkiv region on Monday evening, killing civilians and injuring those who came to help them, according to Oleg Sinegubov, the head of the regional administration.
Two people were killed and at least five others injured after aerial bombs were dropped on a village in the Kupiansk district, Mr. Sinegubov said. Rescue workers then “came under repeated fire from the occupiers,” he said. Two emergency service employees were hospitalized, he added.