Dozens of people were killed by Russian rocket fire on the city of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, according to an adviser to the Ministry of the Interior.
Anton Herashchenko’s remarks were posted on Facebook on Monday, hours after explosions were reported in Kharkiv by Ukraine’s State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection in a brief statement on the app. Telegram messenger.
“Kharkiv just got massively shot by graduates [rockets]. Dozens dead and hundreds injured,” he said.
There was no immediate comment from Moscow on Herashchenko’s remarks, and Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify its claim.
Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, said reports of deadly Russian strikes on densely populated civilian areas were disturbing.
“There are a lot of pictures [circulating on social media] showing explosions and suggestions that Grad rocket fire was used, others that bombs were dropped from the air, and there are many [videos showing] flashes that indicate secondary explosions and the use of cluster munitions among all of that,” Hull said.
Elsewhere, there was a relative lull in the capital Kyiv where supermarkets were reopened and residents allowed out of bomb shelters and homes for the first time since a curfew was imposed on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the strategic port city of Mariupol was “hanging on”, according to Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Russian news agency Interfax reported that Russian troops had advanced from the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine towards the city of Mykolaiv.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s state communications service said in a Telegram message that a missile hit a residential building in the Ukrainian town of Chernihiv, near the border with Belarus.
Ukraine’s state-owned energy company Energoatom has dismissed Russian claims that its troops took control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as fake news.
“Currently, the four nuclear power plants are under the control of Ukraine and are operating normally.”
Details of military developments could not be independently verified.
The deaths in Kharkiv came a day after Ukrainian troops repelled a major Russian attack on the city on Sunday.
Videos circulating on Ukrainian media and social media showed Russian vehicles moving through the city of around 1.4 million people and a burning light vehicle in the street.
Later Sunday, regional governor Oleh Sinegubov wrote on Facebook that Ukrainian forces had regained full control of the country’s second-largest city.
“The control of Kharkiv is entirely ours! The armed forces, police and defense forces are working and the city is completely cleared of the enemy,” he said.
Kharkiv is in northeastern Ukraine, near the breakaway regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, more than 400 km (250 miles) from Kiev.
The exact death toll from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is unclear, but the UN human rights chief said 102 civilians were killed and hundreds injured – warning that figure was likely a gross undercount.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry reported 352 civilian deaths, including 14 children, as of Sunday evening.
More than 500,000 people have fled the country since the invasion, another UN official said on Monday – among the millions who have left their homes.