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Russia sends a message to all of Ukraine by hitting these civilian areas in this city

<i>State Emergency Service of Ukraine</i><br/>A large explosion destroyed a government building in central Kharkiv on Tuesday
State Emergency Service of Ukraine
A large explosion destroyed a government building in central Kharkiv on Tuesday

By Gianluca Mezzofiore, Katie Polglase and Paul P. Murphy, CNN

Three schools shelled, one of them with a gaping hole on the side of the building. Multiple rockets raining on panicking shoppers outside a supermarket. People walking through a park forced to rush to safety as shells explode around them.

These were some of the attacks that residents of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, endured in recent days as Russian forces targeted residential areas, hitting civilian infrastructure such as schools, shops, hospitals, apartment blocks and churches.

CNN has geolocated and verified 13 incidents involving civilians over the past three days, as attacks intensified on Kharkiv, a city of about 1.5 million people. following Ukraine’s resistance.

Most of the attacks took place in the northeastern part of Kharkiv in the residential area of Saltivka. But other districts in the northwest, southeast and southwest of the city were also affected. The city’s Freedom Square, the center of public life in Kharkiv, was hit with was believed to be a cruise missile, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister said.

In 24 hours, 34 civilians were killed and 285 injured — including 10 children — in the Kharkiv region, the Ukrainian State Emergency Service said on Thursday morning.

As the Kharkiv offensive ramped up, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague announced on Wednesday that he had launched an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky referred to Russia’s relentless bombardment of Kharkiv, including the deliberate targeting of residential areas with “jet artillery,” as a “war crime” in a late-night address on Monday.

CNN has analyzed and verified digital evidence, including videos and photos, of several indiscriminate attacks in Kharkiv.

Three schools hit by shelling in one day

At least three schools in Kharkiv were hit by Russian military strikes on Tuesday, according to videos and photos posted to social media.

In one clip, a school in the northern Saltivka neighborhood is pictured with a gaping hole in the wall, rubble and broken glass strewn across the courtyard.

“School number 17 of Kharkiv city,” someone can be heard saying in the video. “It flew right here, everything is in ruins, everything is fallen out, shell fragments everywhere, everything is in smoke.”

The other two schools hit in shelling were just over a kilometer (around 0.6 miles) apart, in an industrial district in Kharkiv’s southeastern area.

Schools have not been in session since the Russian invasion began.

Other schools were indirectly affected during the bombing of the center of Kharkiv on Tuesday. Viktor Kruglov, the founder of Ranok, a private school, said they managed to evacuate about 54 orphans from a boarding school for blind and visually impaired children just 15 minutes before the explosion.

However, 65 people are still holed up in the basement of the school — with no electricity or water due to the shelling. They’re relying on food and water brought by volunteers, according to Valentyna Butenko, head of the non-governmental organization “Right to Choose” (Pravo Vyboru).

The school is located 300 meters (approximately 985 feet) from the epicenter of the explosion in Freedom Square.

Apartment blocks directly hit

On Tuesday, two apartment buildings were directly hit, just outside City Kharkiv municipal hospital No 3. The strikes also hit an office building.

In one video, a fire rages at a damaged apartment complex just across the street from the hospital.

“The building is gone,” someone in the video says.

Another video shows children and family fleeing the apartment complex, and at least two bodies on the ground.

“…animals, simply animals,” someone said, appearing to refer to those responsible for the military strikes. “People were driving here.”

“A house,” another person said, adding, “Look at what they’ve done.”

CNN could not identify any military targets in the area.

Other footage from the Saltivka neighborhood, which was shared on local media, showed a row of shops in front of an apartment building destroyed by strikes. A nearby building was also seen on fire.

Security camera catches dramatic incident

Five residential neighborhoods of Kharkiv were hit on Monday, according to a CNN analysis.

What appeared to be surveillance-style footage of an apartment complex on Velyka Kil’tseva Street captured panicked residents rushing for safety as rockets exploded around them.

The intense shelling — at least eight explosions are seen but there are more heard — lasts for 20 seconds. As the munitions rain down, people are seen running away. One individual is seen falling to the ground as explosions dot the ground around. A parked car explodes after taking a direct hit. After the hail of strikes stop, the individual that fell appears to crawl away, but then stops moving. Their condition is unknown to CNN.

Apartment complexes on Klochkivska Street in northwestern Kharkiv, and on Vasylia Stusa Street in eastern Kharkiv were also hit on Monday.

Multiple-launch rocket system attack near supermarket

The Saltivka neighborhood was also hit by a multiple-launch rocket system, or MLRS, attack on Monday.

Videos geolocated by CNN show multiple rockets exploding closely together near the Equator supermarket, while shoppers scramble to safety.

One video shows a rocket booster lodged in the street pavement, as some people look at it.

According to the Kharkiv City Council, that shelling left one female civilian dead, and 31 wounded. The wounded are made up of 15 servicemen and 16 civilians, says the city council in a press statement. CNN cannot independently verify these numbers.

Dan Kaszeta, a defense specialist and an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank in London, said the images were consistent with a multiple rocket launch system attack.

“The appearance of at least one image of a rocket booster section lends credence to this having been a rocket attack,” he said.

Commenting on that attack, Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, said: “Kharkiv has just been subjected to massive Grad shelling! Dozens of victims.”

He described the situation as “a nightmare.”

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Tim Lister and Celine Alkhaldi contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Europe/Mideast/Africa

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