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Three dead after suspected shelling in Russian city near Ukraine

Three people have been killed, four injured, and several houses damaged in powerful explosion in Belgorod, a Russian city 40km from the border with Ukraine, according to the regional governor.

“We currently have information about three fatalities,” Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on his Telegram channel on Sunday morning, adding that the city’s air defenses may have been activated overnight.

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The injured residents include a 10-year-old child, while 11 apartment complexes and at least 39 houses are damaged. It appears to be the worst single-day damage in the city since Russia launched its military campaign in Ukraine in late February.

Gladkov earlier said several “loud bangs” were heard overnight and a building had caught fire. “We are working to determine the causes,” he wrote, adding that air defenses may have detected an incoming projectile.

Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reported that Belgorod was shelled from the territory of Ukraine at around 3am local time.

Security camera footage, posted on social media, shows what appears to be a large explosion in the city.

Also on Sunday, Kursk Region Governor Roman Starovoyt said two Ukrainian drones were shot down after crossing into Russia.

The Russian authorities repeatedly accused Ukraine of shelling cities and villages close to the border. Last month, officials said houses were damaged in the village of Hotmyzhsk, also in the Belgorod Region.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

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