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Russian missile attack leaves 7 dead, over 100 injured in Chernihiv, Ukrainian officials say

Seven people, including a six-year-old child, were killed and 129 were wounded when a Russian missile struck a central square in the historic northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, Ukraine's Interior Ministry said on Saturday.

An ordinary Saturday 'turned into a day of pain and loss,' Zelenskyy says

Emergency workers get ready to inspect a building damaged after a missile attack.

Seven people, including a six-year-old child, were killed, at least 129 were wounded and 41 were in hospital after a Russian missile struck a central square in the historic northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv on Saturday, Ukrainian officials said.

"A Russian missile hit right in the centre of the city, in our Chernihiv. A square, the polytechnic university, a theatre," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was on a working visit to Sweden, posted on Telegram.

"An ordinary Saturday, which Russia turned into a day of pain and loss," he added of the strike on Chernihiv, a city of leafy boulevards and centuries-old churches about 145 kilometres north of the capital Kyiv.

Of the 129 counted as wounded in the search and rescue operation, 15 were children and 15 were police officers, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on Telegram. Regional governor Viacheslav Chaus said later on Telegram that 140 people had sought medical help and 41 were in hospital.

An employee at a cafe in Chernihiv, Ukraine, reacts to the damage caused by a deadly Russian missile attack, in the centre of the city on Saturday.

Debris was scattered across a square in front of the damaged theatre and surrounding buildings, where parked vehicles were heavily damaged. A 63-year-old who only gave her first name, Valentyna, showed the damaged balcony in her apartment opposite the theatre.

"It is horrific, horrific. There were wounded, ambulances and broken glass in here. Nightmare. Just nightmare," she said.

Theatre roof torn off

The roof of the neoclassical theatre was torn off by the strike.

An image showing an aerial view of the damage a Russian missile attack did to a theatre in Chernihiv, Ukraine.

Russia has attacked Ukrainian cities far from the front line with missiles and drones as part of the full-scale invasion that began in February 2022.

People leaving church after marking a religious holiday and others passing by were among those hurt when the missile hit the theatre, where a meeting was taking place, Chaus said.

Law enforcement agencies were looking into how Russians became aware of the meeting, which he said included business and community representatives; Ukrainian media had reported drone manufacturers were at the event. Both Russia and Ukraine have have widely used drones on the battlefield.

An event organizer said all the participants, including engineers, members of the military and volunteers, were asked to go to an air raid shelter in the theatre when the alarm sounded, but some people went outside.

An emergency service worker looks up at the damage caused by a missile strike.

"All those who took shelter remained safe," Maria Berlinska, a co-founder of the Dignitas Fund, whose fundraising includes money for drones for the frontline, said in a Facebook post.

A wounded woman said her friend pulled her out of one of the damaged buildings after a part of the ceiling fell on her head.

The streets were stained with blood and strewn with scraps from first-aid supplies that had been used to treat the wounded.

Kyiv's air force said early Saturday the Ukrainian military had shot down 15 of 17 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched by Moscow in an overnight strike.

Russia's Defence Ministry said it had destroyed a Ukrainian drone in the Belgorod region and jammed another near Moscow. A third struck a military airfield in the Novgorod region, damaging a warplane, it also said.

Also in Russia, President Vladimir Putin visited top military officials in the city of Rostov-on-Don near the Ukrainian border.

Fire trucks and police cars near the site of a Russian missile strike.

The Kremlin said Putin listened to reports from Valery Gerasimov, the commander in charge of Moscow's operations in Ukraine, and other top military brass at the headquarters of Russia's Southern Military District.

The exact timing of his visit was not confirmed, but state media published video footage that appeared to be filmed at night, showing Gerasimov greeting Putin and leading him into a building. The meeting itself was held behind closed doors.

It was Putin's first visit to Rostov-on-Don since the Wagner mercenary group's attempted mutiny in June, when the group's fighters briefly took control of the city.

With files from The Associated Press

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