Several loud explosions rocked the center of the Ukrainian capital as waves of explosive-laden suicide drones struck a week after Russia orchestrated a massive airstrike across the country.
Kyiv’s central Shevchenko district was among the affected areas, with damaged apartment buildings and a non-residential building on fire, the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said.
He said 18 people had been rescued from the rubble of a building and rescuers were trying to extract two other people known to be under the rubble.
An Associated Press photographer who was shooting morning scenes from Kyiv captured one of the drones, with its triangle-shaped wing and pointed warhead clearly visible against the blue sky.
The drones arrived in waves and buzzed overhead with angry hums coming from their engines. There was no word on the casualties.
In the Kyiv region alone, 13 or more drones were shot down, all as they arrived from the south, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said.
The explosions came from the same central district of Kyiv where a week ago a missile hit a children’s playground and an intersection near the main buildings of Kyiv National University.
Social media posts showed a fire in the area of the apparent strike, with black smoke billowing in the early morning light.
Russian forces hit Kyiv with Iranian Shahed drones, Andrii Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, wrote in a post on social media site Telegram.
Moscow has repeatedly used the so-called suicide drones in recent weeks to target urban centers and infrastructure, including power plants.
Strikes in central Kyiv had become rare in recent months after Russian forces failed to capture the capital early in the war.
Last week’s morning strikes were the first explosions heard in downtown Kyiv for several months and have put Kyiv and the rest of the country on edge as the nine-month war approaches.
Monday’s explosions appeared to be continuing, which many fear will become more common occurrences in urban centers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week’s strikes were retaliation for the shelling of a bridge connecting the Crimean peninsula to the Russian mainland.
Mr Putin accuses Ukraine of orchestrating the explosion, which suspended traffic on the bridge and reduced Moscow’s ability to use the bridge to supply Russian troops in occupied southern Ukraine.
The strike on Kyiv comes as fighting has intensified in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in recent days, as well as the continuation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south near Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening speech on Sunday evening that there was heavy fighting around the towns of Bakhmut and Soledar in the Donetsk region.
The Donetsk and Luhansk regions make up the bulk of the industrial east known as Donbass and were two of four regions annexed by Russia in September in defiance of international law.
On Sunday, the Russian-backed regime in the Donetsk region said Ukraine bombed its central administrative building in a direct hit. No casualties were reported.