Ukraine war: Putin accused of using ‘cluster bombs’ that killed child and two adults hiding in pre-school

The Russian military has been accused of using cluster bombs in an attack that killed a child and two adults hiding in a pre-school in northeastern Ukraine.

A second child was wounded in the shelling on the Sonechko nursery and kindergarten in the city of Okhtyrka.

Amnesty International said the strike may constitute a war crime.

“There is no possible justification for dropping cluster munitions in populated areas, let alone near a school,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty’s Secretary-General.

“It is stomach-turning to see an indiscriminate attack on a nursery and kindergarten where civilians are seeking safe haven.”

“This attack bears all the hallmarks of Russia’s use of this inherently indiscriminate and internationally-banned weapon, and shows flagrant disregard for civilian life.”

Drone footage from the scene shows cluster munitions struck at least seven locations on or near the building, Amnesty said.

Two bodies are seen on the ground.

“While I was walking down [with] my wife, there were immediate explosions,” one witness told Amnesty.

“You see, everyone is covered with blood, everything.”

“It kills me the fact it’s a kindergarten,” he said. “What’s this they shoot at? At military objects? Where are those?”

A school destroyed in a separate attack in Kharkiv (AFP via Getty Images)
A school destroyed in a separate attack in Kharkiv (AFP via Getty Images)

Cluster bombs scatter or release smaller munitions over a wide area.

Amnesty said an “unguided and notoriously inaccurate” 220mm Uragan rocket was used in the attack.

More than 100 countries have committed never to use the indiscriminate weapons under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but neither Russia nor Ukraine has signed the agreement.

The shelling in Okhtyrka on Friday is the fourth attack to have struck a school that has been verified by Amnesty.

This morning, dozens of civilians were killed and hundreds more injured in Russian rocket strikes on the eastern city of Kharkiv, Ukrainian officials said.

Since the start of Russia’s invasion on Thursday, at least 352 civilians have been killed, according to Ukraine’s health ministry. Exact death tolls are unclear and it is believed many more are dead or injured.

At least 16 children have been killed and another 45 wounded, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said.

Ukraine and its allies have called for a United Nations inquiry into possible war crimes committed by Russia.