Officials in Lviv said six people including a child were killed in Russian missile strikes on Monday morning on the city in western Ukraine, which has been a haven for people fleeing the war from other parts of the country.
The attacks on the city came as concerns grew for civilians hiding out in a steelworks in the besieged south-eastern port of Mariupol, where Moscow’s troops have tightened their control after weeks of fighting.
Andriy Sadovyy, Lviv’s mayor, reported “five targeted missile strikes” on Monday morning in the city, which has been a sanctuary for refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion. He said emergency services had been dispatched to the sites of the attacks as officials sought more details.
Maksym Kozytskyi, Lviv’s regional governor, said in a statement that “as of this hour, there are six dead and eight known injuries” from the missile attacks. “One child was among the victims,” he added.
He said the missiles hit three military infrastructure targets and a tyre repair shop.
Monday’s reported attacks came after Ukrainian officials claimed late on Sunday that civilians, including children, were sheltering alongside the last fighters under a Mariupol steelworks despite a Russian ultimatum that they surrender.
Mykhailo Vershynin, Mariupol’s patrol police chief, told the city’s TV channel that they had taken refuge in the Azovstal steelworks because “it’s a hiding place that allows them to survive for a certain time” during Russia’s intense bomb, missile and artillery attacks.
“According to my information, [in] the territory of the factory of Azovstal, there really is a large number of civilians. Including women, children, old people and orphans,” he said.
Vershynin also told the outlet that Russian and Moscow-backed separatist forces who now controlled most of the port city were paying civilians in food to help remove rubble, collect corpses and dig mass graves.
Vershynin estimated that 100,000 or fewer residents remained in the city, which had a population of more than 400,000 before Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade on February 24.
Russia on Sunday demanded the surrender of about 2,000 Ukrainian troops remaining in Mariupol, who are mostly concentrated at Azovstal and the city’s port. The Ukrainians ignored the ultimatum.
Separately, two Ukrainian officials posted images of a small girl they said was living beneath Azovstal, a Soviet-era facility with concrete and steel infrastructure that has allowed Mariupol fighters to survive the most intense bombardment of the war.
“Meet Alisa, she is four years old. Fifty days of her life she spent with her mother in a bunker on the territory of the Azovstal plant under round-the-clock bombing,” Arsen Avakov, a long-serving former minister of internal affairs, wrote in a Facebook post that included a video of a small girl that he said was sent from Mariupol. “Her mother, a military doctor, provides assistance to the wounded and sick in a field hospital which is also equipped there.”
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, posted a photo of the same child on Twitter, writing: “This is Alice, she is 4. She lives in one of the bunkers in Mariupol with relatives of the military. It is clear what will happen when [Russia] gets there.”
Ukrainian and Russian claims about the conflict could not be confirmed. Ukrainian marines, soldiers, border guards and fighters from the rightwing nationalist Azov Battalion paramilitary group were among the fighters remaining in the city.
A senior Azov figure who is in touch with the fighters told the Financial Times at the weekend that the Ukrainian troops in Mariupol were running short on food, drinking water and medicine.
In its regular morning update on military operations, Ukraine’s armed forces general staff said Russia was trying to “establish complete control over the city of Mariupol”.
Moscow had also intensified attacks elsewhere in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where Putin’s troops are trying to gain territory after failing to establish control in the capital Kyiv during the first phase of the war.