Satellite image shows that 'children' was written on the ground before Mariupol theatre was bombed

Satellite image shows that 'children' was written on the ground before Mariupol theatre was bombed
Mariupol maternity hospital lays in ruins after Russian airstrike

Shocking satellite imagery has shown that the world “children” was written on the ground outside Mariupol theatre in Ukraine which was bombed by Russian forces.

More than 1,000 civilians including women and children were taking shelter inside the building when the threatre was shelled, local officials said.

Images taken by Maxar Technologies on March, days before the air strike took place, shows the Donetsk Regional Theatre of Drama had the Russian word for “children” (дети) written in large white letters on the pavement around it.

The number of casualties remained unknown and Moscow denied it had targeted the building, but Mariupol’s deputy mayor Sergei Orlov said earlier that between 1,000 and 1,200 people originally sought refuge inside the building and could have been inside when the attack took place.

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Mariupol council posted an image of the city’s theatre and said that Russian forces had “purposefully and cynically destroyed the drama theatre in the heart of Mariupol”.

A statement from Ukraine’s foreign ministry said: “The bomb strike demolished the central part of the theatre building, causing large numbers of people to be buried under the debris.

The image was taken on March 14Maxar Technologies

“The assessment of the exact number of persons affected is currently impossible due to ongoing shelling.

“By delivering a purposeful bomb attack to the place of mass gathering of civilians Russia has committed another war crime.”

However, Russia’s defence ministry swiftly denied it carried out the assault, according to the RIA news agency. Instead it accused the Azov Battalion, a far-right Ukrainian militia, of blowing it up without giving any evidence to back up the claim.

The Kremlin has consistently denied its troops are targeting innocent Ukrainians – something Ukraine officials dispute, citing the attack at a maternity hospital last week.

Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin sharply escalated the rhetoric over the Ukraine war following the attack.

President Biden called Mr Putin a “war criminal” and announced the United States would send an additional $800m (£600m) in military aid to Ukraine, including more anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons and drones.

In a sign of growing anger, Mr Putin lashed out at “scum and traitors” in Russia who he accused the west of using as a “fifth column” to destroy his country.

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