Dozens of Ukrainian soldiers killed in barracks bombed by Russia, witnesses say

MYKOLAIV, Ukraine – Dozens of soldiers were killed when Russian troops shelled a Ukrainian military barracks in the southern city of Mykolaiv, witnesses told AFP on Saturday as a rescue operation was underway.

“No less than 200 soldiers were sleeping in the barracks” when Russian troops struck early Friday, a Ukrainian soldier on the ground, Maxim, 22, told AFP, without giving his last name.

“At least 50 bodies have been recovered, but we don’t know how many more are in the rubble,” he said.

Another soldier estimated that the shelling could have killed around 100 people.

The authorities have not yet published an official report.

The military installation north of the city was completely destroyed after being hit by several rockets on Friday morning.

“Yesterday the ‘orcs’ cowardly hit our sleeping soldiers with a rocket,” Vitaly Kim, head of the regional administration, said in a video on Saturday, using the Ukrainian nickname for Russian forces.

“A rescue operation is underway,” he added. He gave no further details, saying he expected to receive official information from the armed forces.

A Ukrainian soldier stands next to the rifles of dead and wounded soldiers, near the military school hit by Russian rockets the day before, in Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine, on March 19, 2022. (Bulent Kilic/AFP )

AFP journalists on the spot earlier in the day saw the bodies of three people, including a shredded corpse extracted from the rubble by rescuers.

A survivor was also evacuated.

Rescuers carry a Ukrainian soldier rescued after 30 hours from the debris of the military school hit by Russian rockets, in Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine, on March 19, 2022. (BULENT KILIC / AFP)

“We continue to count but it’s impossible to know given the state of the bodies,” a rescuer told AFP.

Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych told local reporters that the city, which had a pre-war population of nearly half a million, had been hit by neighboring Kherson region, now under Russian control.

For days the Russians have bombarded Mykolaiv, which is on the way to the strategic port city of Odessa, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) along the Black Sea coast.

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