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A Russian missile strike on a train station in Ukraine during the country’s Independence Day killed at least 15 people and injured dozens more, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
The attack took place in Chaplyne, a town of about 3,500 people in the central Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukrainian news agencies quoted Zelenskyy as saying.
The president had warned Ukrainians that Moscow might attempt “something particularly cruel” this week as the nation commemorates its declaration of independence from the Soviet Union more than 30 years ago.
“Russian provocations and brutal strikes are a possibility,” Zelenskyy said in a statement before the train attack was reported. “Please strictly follow the safety rules. Please observe the curfew. Pay attention to the air sirens.”
The warning came as Ukraine marked the six-month point in the war. In a holiday message to the country, Zelenskyy exulted over Ukraine’s success in fending off Moscow’s forces since the invasion, saying: “On Feb. 24, we were told: You have no chance. On Aug. 24, we say: Happy Independence Day, Ukraine!”
Ahead of Independence Day, Kyiv authorities banned large gatherings in the capital through Thursday for fear of missile strikes. Residents of the capital woke up Wednesday to air raid sirens. As the day wore on, Russian bombardment was reported in the country’s east, west and central areas, with the most serious attack apparently at the train station.
The U.S. announced a major new military aid package totaling nearly $3 billion that will, according to U.S. President Joe Biden allow Ukraine to acquire air defense and artillery systems and other weapons.
Ukraine has been especially on edge this week after the 29-year-old daughter of right-wing Russian political theorist Alexander Dugin was killed in a car bomb on Saturday. Russian officials have blamed Ukraine for the death of a pro-Kremlin TV commentator Darya Dugina, but Ukraine has denied any involvement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces have encountered unexpectedly stiff Ukrainian resistance in their invasion and abandoned their effort to storm the capital in the spring. The fighting has turned into a slog that has reduced neighborhoods to rubble and sent shock waves through the world economy.
On the battlefield, Russian forces struck several towns and villages in Donetsk province in the east over 24 hours, killing one person, authorities said. A building materials superstore in the city of Donetsk was hit by a shell and erupted in flames, the mayor said. There were no immediate reports of any injuries.
In the Dnipropetrovsk region, the Russians again shelled the cities of Nikopol and Marhanets, damaging several buildings and wounding two people, authorities said. Russian troops also shelled the city of Zaporizhzhia, but no casualties were reported.
Also, Russian rockets struck unspecified targets in the Khmelnytskyi region, about 180 miles west of Kyiv, the regional governor said. Attacks there have been infrequent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.