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Ukraine's capital Kyiv, 3 other cities rocked by several explosions

KYIV – Several explosions shook Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Monday, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin branded a massive blast that crippled Russia’s sole bridge to Crimea a terrorist attack and prominent Russians demanded fierce reprisals

A spokesman for Ukraine’s emergency services unit told a state-run broadcaster there were people who died, but that “the details are (still) being confirmed".

“Several explosions in the Shevchenskivskyi district, in the centre of the capital,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app.

A Reuters witness reported a cloud of black smoke rising from buildings. 

AFP journalists reported at least three loud blasts, occurring at 8.15am (1.15pm in Singapore), and air raid sirens sounding all around Kyiv.

Explosions were also reported in the cities of Lviv, Ternopil in Ukraine's west, and in Dnipro in central Ukraine.

Mr Putin said Sunday the attack on Saturday on the Kerch Strait Bridge – a major supply route for Mosco’s forces in southern Ukraine – was “an act of terrorism aimed at destroying critically important civilian infrastructure”.

“This was devised, carried out and ordered by the Ukrainian special services,” he said in a video on the Kremlin’s Telegram channel.

Many in Ukraine had been bracing for a severe Russian response to Saturday’s attack on the Kerch Strait Bridge, which analysts described as a significant blow to Moscow, if more symbolic than practical.

The blast damaged a span that holds personal importance for Mr Putin,

Killing is 'appropriate response'

In Russia, calls for revenge against Ukraine were swift, with some suggesting that without a brutal response Moscow would be considered weak.

Security council deputy chairman Dmitry Medvedev said ahead of the meeting that Russia should kill the “terrorists” responsible for the attack.

“Russia can only respond to this crime by directly killing terrorists, as is the custom elsewhere in the world. This is what Russian citizens expect,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency Tass.

Mr Evgeny Poddubny, a war correspondent for the state RT outlet, said nobody in the Ukrainian leadership seemed to fear Russia anymore.

“The enemy has stopped being afraid, and this circumstance needs to be corrected promptly,” he wrote in RT’s Telegram channel. “Commanders of formations, heads of intelligence agencies, politicians of the Kyiv criminal regime sleep peacefully, wake up without a headache and in a good mood, without a sense of inevitability of punishment for crimes committed.”

Russian advance

Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russian troops came closer to the strategically important eastern city of Bakhmut, having advanced up to 2km over the last week, a British intelligence update said Monday.

"Russia continues to give high priority to its own offensive operations in the central Donbas sector, especially near the town of Bakhmut," Britain's Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin.

In a video address on Saturday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian troops were involved in very tough fighting near Bakhmut.

Bakhmut sits on a main road leading to the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, both situated in the industrial Donbas region, which Moscow has yet to fully capture.

In south-eastern Ukraine, Russian shelling overnight destroyed an apartment building in the city of Zaporizhzhia, regional Governor Oleksandr Starukh said early Monday.

At least one person died and five were injured in the attack, a city official said.

The pre-dawn strikes were the third such attack against the region in four days. A strike on an apartment in the city on Sunday killed at least 13 people and injured 87 others, including 10 children, according to Ukrainian officials.

Mr Zelensky condemned Sunday’s attack as “absolute evil”.

“This was a deliberate hit. Whoever gave the order and whoever carried it out knew what they were targeting,” he said in a video address. - REUTERS, AFP, NYTIMES

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