'High precision' strike kills journalist, hits Kyiv homes

·3-min read

Mykhailo Vovchynskyi had only just moved into his Kyiv apartment when the building was hit in what Russia called a "high precision" missile attack targeting a factory across the street -- a claim he found loaded with menace.

Not only did the powerful blast on Thursday evening heavily damage the structure, injuring at least 10 people, it killed a female journalist in her home as UN chief Antonio Guterres was visiting the Ukrainian capital.

"If this was indeed a 'high precision' attack, that is pretty cynical. It's inhuman behaviour," 22-year-old Vovchynskyi said Friday after he and his girlfriend hauled out bags of belongings they had brought in some two weeks earlier.

As he spoke, heavy equipment was piling up rubble and crews were shovelling shattered glass and inspecting the building, which had nearly three storeys of its facade shorn off.

The powerful blast left mounds of shattered concrete and on Friday morning, rescuers said they had found a corpse, which was carried out in a black body bag on a stretcher and loaded into a green morgue van.

The victim was Vera Gyrych, a journalist and producer at US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty who was killed in her home, prompting the broadcaster to express its anger over "the senseless nature" of her death.

"We have lost a dear colleague who will be remembered for her professionalism and dedication to our mission," its president Jamie Fly said in a statement.

Russia has faced harsh criticism for its explosive strikes that have struck civilian areas, but also over accusations its soldiers on the ground have killed or harmed civilians.

Moscow insists it is doing all it can to protect non-combatants.

- 'War is war' -

The road through the area is lined with multi-story apartment buildings which overlook the industrial site that was the apparent target of Thursday evening's strike.

Russia said it had targeted the Ukrainian air defence firm Artem.

According to defence ministry website armyinform.com.ua, Artem is owned by UkrOboronProm, Ukraine's state weapons manufacturer, and manufactures missiles.

Contacted by AFP, UkrOboronProm did not immediately respond to requests for details about the site's use. On Thursday evening, AFP saw some of the buildings there in flames, belching black smoke into the air.

The blast wave shattered windows and cracked walls for hundreds of metres (yards) in every direction, and significantly damaged a local health clinic.

"I think the Russians aren't afraid of anything, not even the world's judgement," Anna Hromovych, deputy director of the clinic, told AFP as she and others were cleaning up the damage on Friday.

Broken doors and collapsed sections of the ceiling mixed with broken glass and children's toys in the waiting room area, meaning the clinic will have to relocate its operations for the time being.

Thursday's attack, which came less than an hour after the UN chief wrapped up a news conference a few kilometres away, also shattered nearly two weeks of relative calm in a capital that just last month was bracing for a Russian siege.

However, Kyiv has been steadily resuming something resembling normal life -- despite military checkpoints, air raid sirens, bunkers and fuel shortages -- so the strike was a jarring reminder.

"We already had a strike in our area, so we didn't expect another -- we were thinking you can't step into the same river twice," said Natalia Karpenko, 55, who owns a recruiting agency and lives near where the missiles hit.

Despite the threat, she had no plans to leave like the more than 5.4 million Ukrainians who have fled the country since Russia invaded in February.

"We planted flowers near the house yesterday. War is war," she added with a shrug.

jm/hmw/har

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting