Eight-year-old boy killed as Russian missiles hit western Ukraine – officials

By Pavel Polityuk

KYIV (Reuters) -Russia attacked the western Ukrainian region of Ivano-Frankivsk with hypersonic missiles on Friday, hitting areas near a military airfield and killing an eight-year-old boy, Ukrainian officials said.

One missile crashed into the grounds of a family’s home in the Kolomyia district, wounding several people including the boy, who later died in hospital, regional governor Svitlana Onyshchuk said.

“Medics did everything possible, but unfortunately the child’s life could not be saved,” she wrote on the Telegram messaging app without clarifying how many people had been hurt.

Air defences shot down one of the four Kinzhal missiles near the capital Kyiv as they hurtled towards western Ukraine hundreds of miles from the front, the air force said.

“One X-47 (hypersonic) missile was destroyed within Kyiv region. The rest hit near the airfield. Civilian infrastructure was damaged, and one of the missiles hit a residential area,” it said on Telegram.

Air Force Colonel Yuriy Ihnat suggested the attack had been aimed at Ukrainian pilots who were about to travel to the West to train to use F-16 fighter jets that Kyiv hopes will eventually be delivered.

“They (the pilots) will be trained on new equipment – the F-16 – and the enemy wanted to strike our young people, depriving us of the prospect of using the new Western equipment,” he said on television.

In Kyiv’s northern Obolon district, missile fragments crashed into the grounds of a children’s hospital, damaged the roof of a house and also fell on a complex of country homes. Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported no casualties.

Witnesses in the city centre said they heard two loud explosions, but could not tell where they were coming from.

“We should thank our air defence forces for shooting down the missiles,” Mykhailo Shamanov, a city official, said on television shortly after the strike.

Officials said that air defences had also been at work in the western region of Khmelnytskyi where media reports said explosions had been heard. There were no reports of damage or casualties.

Authorities issued a nationwide air alert before the attack, and social media monitors reported that several Russian warplanes that carry long-range missiles had taken off from Russian air bases.

The West has supplied sophisticated air defence systems to Ukraine to help defend itself from regular waves of Russian missile and drone strikes.

Those air defences have allowed Kyiv to fend off the full brunt of Russia’s air strikes in recent months, but other areas of Ukraine, a country double the size of Italy, are more thinly protected.

Russia has struck Ukrainian cities far from the front lines throughout its war, often hitting civilian targets. Moscow denies intentionally targeting civilians.

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk and Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Peter Graff and John Stonestreet)