Russian missiles destroy aircraft repair plant in Ukrainian city of Lviv

Smoke rises above buildings near Lviv airport in Ukraine, on March 18, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

LVIV (AFP, REUTERS) - Russian forces on Friday (March 18) destroyed an aircraft repair plant in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv but no one was hurt, the mayor said.

A thick pall of grey smoke streamed across the clear blue sky over Lviv’s airport on Friday morning, an AFP reporter saw, and ambulances raced to the scene.

“Several missiles hit an aircraft repair plant,” Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on the messaging app Telegram, and that the plant had been destroyed.

“There are no casualties,” he said, adding that operations at the plant had been halted.

He earlier wrote that Russian forces had struck an area close to Lviv’s airport.

Armed checkpoints turned motorists back from roads leading to the airport, and a local man told AFP he had heard a blast earlier Friday.

Ukraine’s air force, referring to the strike and citing preliminary information, said that six “cruise missiles had been launched, probably X-555, from the Black Sea”. Two missiles had been destroyed, the statement added.

Lviv is the largest city in western Ukraine and a popular tourist destination known for its picturesque views.

Last weekend, Russian cruise missiles devastated a military base west of Lviv, killing 35 people and wounding more than 130.

Located 70km from the border with European Union member Poland, the city had largely been spared since Russian forces invaded on Feb 24.

Separately, Ukraine hopes to evacuate civilians on Friday through nine humanitarian corridors from cities and towns on the front line of fighting with Russian forces, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

Meanwhile, Russian troops and their separatist allies were fighting on Friday in the centre of Mariupol, a strategic port city in the southeast of Ukraine, the Russian defence ministry said.

“In Mariupol, units of the Donetsk People’s Republic, with the support of the Russian armed forces, are squeezing the encirclement and fighting against nationalists in the city centre,” the ministry said in Moscow.

Backed by Russian troops, separatists from Lugansk have “liberated more than 90 per cent of the republic’s territory", the ministry added, referring to the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic, whose independence Moscow recognised on Feb 21.

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