Ukraine War: Thousands of children to be evacuated from Belgorod after attacks

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  • By Emily Atkinson
  • bbc news

Around 9,000 children will be evacuated from the Russian city of Belgorod and the wider region after a bombing that authorities have blamed on Ukraine.

Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said three people, including a child, were injured in the latest attacks, while part of the region, which borders Ukraine, was left without electricity.

He added that this week a total of 16 people have died and 98 have been injured.

It comes days after strikes forced shutdowns across the city.

Belgorod students were ordered not to attend school on Mondays and Tuesdays. Belgorod shopping centers were also closed on Sunday and Monday.

The new evacuation order affects several villages in the city of Belgorod and several villages in other parts of the region, Gladkov said at a meeting of the Kremlin’s United Russia party.

The first group of 1,200 children will be evacuated on Friday.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said its forces shot down what were said to be nine Ukrainian shells over Belgorod on Tuesday.

The ministry later added that it had destroyed two groups of Ukrainian “saboteurs” in pre-emptive strikes near the border with the Belgorod and Kursk regions.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian border areas have continued to report Russian attacks, requiring evacuations there.

kyiv has not commented on the recent series of attacks in Belgorod.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously accused Kiev of launching attacks in the region to disrupt his re-election bid, in which he claimed a landslide victory.

Critics described the contest as neither free nor fair. Putin’s victory was not in doubt, since he had no credible opponent.

On Tuesday, Putin called on the Federal Security Service to identify and punish pro-Ukrainian Russian fighters whom he accused of participating in deadly attacks against Russia in border regions.

“About these traitors… we must not forget who they are, we must identify them by name. We will punish them without prescription, wherever they are,” he said at a meeting of the FSB board of directors.

Earlier this month, three Russian paramilitary groups based in Ukraine said they had crossed into Russia and were now fighting government troops there.

The Russian Freedom Legion (FRL) and the Siberian Battalion (SB) published videos purporting to show their fighters in the Belgorod and Kursk regions.

The FRL and an exiled Russian politician claimed that two villages were now under the control of the “liberation forces”.

At the time, Russia’s Defense Ministry said the breakthrough attempts were thwarted.

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