Civilians killed as they flee town near Kyiv

Kyiv, March 7 : At least three people — a mother and two children — were killed in mortar fire on Monday as residents attempted to flee Irpin town near Kyiv, an Ukrainian defence official said. Ukrainian officials have warned Russia is preparing to launch an all-out assault on capital Kyiv. Ukrainians and foreigners, all are trying to flee a brutal war that came in its full destructive power in just a snap. Russia’s military action will not stop until Moscow’s demands are met, Vladimir Putin has said. Hundreds of terrified people cautiously walked through the debris of concrete and twisted metal, trying to cross the Irpin River on foot, kyivindependent.com reported. “Come on, no need to rush, careful,” a Ukrainian soldier said while helping civilians onto concrete blocks leading to a stairway. Mothers held up their crying babies, young men dragged their bicycles, and elderly people carried bags of essentials. The rolling thunder sound of heavy fighting kept coming from the north. Now a messy crossing that once used to be a bridge connecting Kyiv and Irpin is the only way out for those still trapped. The bridge is in shambles after it was blown up by Ukrainian forces in an attempt to slow the approach of Russian forces. Irpin was a satellite city of 60,000 people just northwest of Ukraine’s capital. Only 10 days earlier, Irpin was a blossoming, comfortable suburb booming with housing developments, kyivindependent said. Now, along with nearby cities of Hostomel and Bucha, it is one of the worst hotspots of Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine that was unleashed on February 24. One of the final frontiers of deterring the enemy advance to the heart of the capital city, the blown-up bridge was the only way for many to flee on foot. Having full control of Irpin is essential for the advancing Russian forces as part of their drive to gain a foothold in Kyiv’s outskirts. The next step for Russians is to make it to the defunct E40 road, the so-called Zhytomyr Highway that runs just south of Irpin, and then continue their efforts to encompass Kyiv from the west, kyivindependent reported. The global nuclear watchdog has said it is very concerned by reports a nuclear plant is under the orders of a Russian commander whose forces seized it. A fresh bid to evacuate civilians from the southern city of Mariupol failed on Sunday. The city council blamed Russian shelling. More than 1.5 million people have so far fled Ukraine into neighbouring countries, the UN has said. ING

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