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Russia shells more cities, as Amnesty says Ukraine is endangering civilians with attacks from residential areas

RUSSIAN shelling hit the Ukrainian cities of Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Chuhuiv and Nikopol today, killing at least four civilians.

Separatist authorities in Donetsk said Ukrainian shelling had killed five civilians as an Amnesty International report said Ukraine was placing non-combatants in harm’s way by launching attacks from schools, hospitals and residential buildings.

The rights group released a report today saying it had “found evidence of Ukrainian forces launching strikes from within populated residential areas, as well as basing themselves in civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages.”

In five places Ukraine had used hospitals as military bases, a “clear breach of humanitarian law.” Military activity had taken place at 22 of 29 schools visited.

The report stressed that “the Ukrainian military’s practice of locating military objectives within populated areas does not in any way justify indiscriminate Russian attacks.”

Thousands of civilians have reportedly been killed in Russian bombardments of city centres as its forces advance across eastern and southern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Defence Ministry and Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report’s findings, which Russia said corroborated its accusation that Kiev uses civilians as “human shields.”

The governments traded accusations over the status of the nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia, the world’s largest, which is under Russian control.

Russia was accused of shelling Nikopol, across the Dnieper river from Zaporizhzhia, to provoke returning fire that might hit the plant, risking a nuclear accident which could then be blamed on Ukraine.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general Rafael Grossi said this week that “every principle of nuclear safety has been violated” at the plant. He cited reports from Ukraine and Russia accusing each other of firing on it, and said contact with the Ukrainian staff had been “patchy” since it fell into Russian hands. “You have a catalogue of things that should never be happening in any nuclear facility,” he stressed.

Mr Grossi said Ukraine and Russia should guarantee the safety of an IAEA team to visit Zaporizhzhia.

Ukraine also accused Russia today of “mobilising” civilians in conquered Lugansk to fight for it and of abducting a village mayor — Serhiy Lyakhno of Hornostaivka — who refused to collaborate in the Kherson region, which Russia-installed officials say will soon vote on becoming part of Russia.

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