Boy, 6, among at least 51 dead in 'brutal' Russian rocket attack on cafe and shop, Ukraine says

By Isaac M October 5, 2023

At least 51 people, including a six-year-old boy, have died after a Russian rocket hit a village cafe and shop in eastern Ukraine in what the country’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said was one of the deadliest attacks in months.

The attack on the village of Hroza in the Kharkiv region was a “demonstrably brutal Russian crime” and “a completely deliberate act of terrorism”, Mr Zelenskyy said.

A six-year-old boy was among the dead, and seven other people were wounded, presidential chief of staff Andrii Yermak and Kharkiv governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

Ukraine: Latest updates as UK condemns ‘barbaric’ attack

Firefighters work at a site of a Russian military strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the village of Hroza, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine October 5, 2023. Head of Kharkiv Regional Military Administration Oleg Syniehubov via Telegram/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
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A cafe and shop were targeted by the airstrike, Ukraine says

Pictures of bloodied bodies lying on the ground, and others in body bags have been released by Ukrainian officials, along with images of emergency workers combing through smouldering debris.

About 60 people were in the cafe at a wake after a funeral, internal affairs minister Ihor Klymenko said.

It is still too early to confirm the total number of fatalities as many people may still be under rubble, an official has told Ukrainian state broadcaster Suspilne.

According to preliminary information from Kyiv, the village was struck by an Iskander missile.

Firefighters work at a site of a Russian military strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the village of Hroza, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine October 5, 2023. Head of Kharkiv Regional Military Administration Oleg Syniehubov via Telegram/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
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Firefighters work at the site. Pic: Oleg Syniehubov

There were no military targets nearby, Ukraine’s defence ministry has said.

In a post on social media site X, officials claimed Russia deliberately targeted the area during lunchtime “to ensure a maximum number of casualties” from what it called “a heinous crime intended to scare Ukrainians”.

In his nightly address, Mr Zelenskyy said Russia “could not have been unaware of where they were hitting. This was no blind strike”.

Russia has yet to respond to suggestions from Kyiv that it carried out the attack, but Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians throughout the war.

Condemning the attack, the UN in Ukraine said pictures of the aftermath are “absolutely horrifying”.

The White House said the “horrifying” strike – one of the deadliest of the war so far – underscores why Western nations are backing Kyiv.


SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB Bodies of killed people are seen at a site of a Russian military strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the village of Hroza, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine October 5, 2023. REUTERS/Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy
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Bodies at the scene of the attack

The UK’s ambassador to Ukraine, Martin Harris, said he was “horrified” by the “barbaric” attack.

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Three days of mourning for the victims will take place across Ukraine’s southern Kharkiv region starting on Friday, regional authorities said.

A tenth of the village killed


Around 500 people live in Hroza, so around 10% of the total was lost in a single hit.

It was obviously a pretty big explosion from the biggest attack in the Kharkiv region since the beginning of the war.

The size of the devastated area shows it was not just your average battlefield missile gone astray.

We’ve seen reports it could be an Iskander missile, which is a ballistic missile, or a ship missile, which have been used in these sorts of attacks before.

War crimes investigators are on the scene, as we found out by enlarging video footage from the aftermath.

Men in dark uniforms are seen climbing over the rubble and on the back of their jackets, it reads “War Crimes Kharkiv”.

The attack coincided with a summit of European leaders in Granada in southern Spain where Mr Zelenskyy tried to drum up support from his country’s allies, telling them “Russian terror must be stopped”.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy arrives at European Political Community Summit in Granada, Spain October 5, 2023. REUTERS/Juan Medina
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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Moscow, he said on Thursday, “needs this and similar terrorist attacks for only one thing; to make its genocidal aggression the new norm for the whole world… we will respond to the terrorists”.

Washington could use a loan scheme intended to help other countries buy weapons to help Ukraine, according to Politico, quoting two officials close to the situation.

It comes as Congress continues to debate President Biden’s request to approve $24bn (£19bn) in extra aid.

Hroza and other parts of the eastern Kharkiv region have been back under Ukrainian control since September 2022, after being occupied by Russia early in the war.

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