Russia said on Friday that Ukraine struck a prison in separatist-held territory with U.S.-made HIMARS rockets, killing 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war and wounding 75. Ukraine said Russia carried out the strike to falsely incriminate Kyiv, reports Reuters.
However, Reuters could not immediately verify the accounts of either side in the conflict.
Video released by a Russian media war correspondent, Andrei Rudenko, showed Russian-backed military personnel sifting through the burned out remains of what he said was the prison. The smashed roof of the building was hanging down.
The charred remains of bodies could be seen. One body was blackened with flames. More bodies lay outside, covered with sheets. Flies swarmed around bloody rags.
Reuters was not able to independently confirm the scene.
“A missile strike from the U.S.-made multiple launch rocket system (HIMARS) was carried out on a pre-trial detention center in the area of the settlement of Olenivka, where Ukrainian military prisoners of war, including fighters from the Azov battalion, are being held,” the Russian defence ministry said.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s armed forces have denied they were responsible for a missile strike on a prison, according to the Guardian.
Ukraine’s military added that the claims that the prisoners were killed in shelling were designed to hide the fact that the men had been “tortured and murdered”. The country’s foreign minister, Dymtro Kuleba, accused Russia of a “barbaric war crime”.
The Ukrainian denial follows a claim earlier on Friday by the Russian defence ministry and Russian-backed self-styled separatist forces that Ukraine had struck a prison in Olenivka with US-made Himars rockets.