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Hotel used by journalists struck by Russian attack on Donetsk town

Russian forces carried out two strikes on the eastern Ukrainian town of Pokrovsk on Monday evening, hitting a popular hotel. 

At least five people were killed and a further 31 injured, according to Ukraine’s interior ministry on Telegram. 

In his nightly address, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia had used short-range Iskander ballistic missiles to attack “normal residential buildings” in Pokrovsk.

The Druzhba hotel, frequented almost entirely by journalists and soldiers, suffered a direct hit. Videos filmed by witnesses show part of the hotel’s side, comprising around three floors, missing. It is unclear how many people were inside the hotel. 

The attack is reminiscent of one on a restaurant in neighbouring Kramatorsk in late June when 11 people were killed and more than 60 injured as they sat down to dinner. Both attacks make the prospect of staying in the region more difficult for journalists, aid workers and volunteers.

The Druzhba was one of only a handful of hotels still operating in the Ukrainian-controlled part of Donetsk region and was considered by many as being a safe distance from the front line.

The number of injured includes 19 police officers and five rescue workers who were caught in a second wave of shelling as they arrived at the scene, according to Ukraine’s interior ministry. The deputy head of the Donetsk rescue workers is among the total of dead, the ministry said.

Images from the first attack, 40 minutes before the strike on the hotel, show civilians dressed in summer clothing trying to sift through the rubble of a damaged apartment block and loading the injured into ambulances. 

Pokrovsk has been hit intermittently since Russia’s full-scale invasion, but almost always on the outskirts and until now, not on this scale.

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