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Russia kills civilians in first huge missile wave for weeks

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KYIV/ZOLOCHIV, Ukraine, March 9 (Reuters) – Russia launched a huge wave of missile strikes across Ukraine while people slept on Thursday, killing at least six civilians, knocking out electricity and briefly forcing Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant off the grid.

The first such mass attack on targets far from the front since mid-February shattered the longest calm since Moscow began an air campaign against Ukraine’s civil infrastructure five months ago. Kyiv said it included an unprecedented six kinzhal hypersonic cruise missiles, one of Moscow’s most valuable weapons.

“The occupiers can only terrorise civilians. That’s all they can do. But it won’t help them. They won’t avoid responsibility for everything they have done,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a statement, describing strikes that hit infrastructure and residential buildings in ten regions.

Russia’s defence ministry said it had carried out a “massive retaliatory strike” as payback for a cross-border raid last week. It claimed to have hit all its intended targets, destroying drone bases, disrupting railways and damaging facilities that make and repair arms.

Villagers in Zolochiv in Ukraine’s western Lviv region carried a body in a black plastic bag over the rubble of a brick house completely destroyed by a missile. They put the body into the back of a white van with two others, of at least five people killed there. A dog lay curled up on a carpet in the ruins.

Oksana Ostapenko said the house belonged to her sister Halyna, whose body was still buried under the rubble with two other family members.

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