A theater in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol where at least 1,000 civilians were sheltering from the Russian attack was brutally bombed today, March 16, according to city officials. The number of casualties remains unknown, the BBC reports.
A post on Mariupol City Council’s official Telegram page shows a photo of the wrecked Donetsk Regional Theatre of Drama with a caption that says the central part of the building was destroyed, in addition to the entrance to a bomb shelter located underneath the structure.
“It is impossible to find words that could describe the level of cruelty and cynicism with which the Russian occupiers are destroying the civilian population of the Ukrainian city by the sea,” the city council wrote in a separate Telegram post. “Women, children, and the elderly remain in the enemy’s crosshairs. These are completely unarmed peaceful people. It is obvious that the only goal of the Russian army is the genocide of the Ukrainian people.”
On social media, the attack is being widely condemned as a war crime. While Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that his troops are targeting civilians, countless reports disprove this. Four days ago, Russian forces shelled a mosque in Mariupol where 80 people were sheltering. Particularly harrowing was the bombing of a maternity hospital last week, also in Mariupol, which killed a pregnant woman and her baby. In a recent statement, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it has verified 31 attacks on medical facilities in Ukraine since the start of the war.
The regional theater is not the only cultural center that has been destroyed by Russian missiles. On February 28, during the early day of the war, Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported the loss of dozens of paintings by artist Maria Pryimachenko in a fire at the Ivankiv Local History Museum incited by a Russian attack.
According to Mariupol officials, more than 2,000 people have been killed in the eastern port city since Russia invaded. The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned of a “worst-case scenario” for residents of Mariupol unless Russia allows access to humanitarian aid and relocation to safety for individuals in danger.
“We have a lack of water, lack of food, lack of medicine, and lack of safety,” Mariupol Deputy Mayor Serhiy Orlov told CBC News. “The situation is really awful and becoming worse and worse.