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A Russian air strike has devastated a children’s hospital with a maternity ward in the besieged port city of Mariupol and wounded at least 17 people, Ukrainian officials said, amid growing warnings from the West that Moscow’s invasion is about to take a more brutal and indiscriminate turn.

The ground shook more than a mile away when the Mariupol complex was hit by a series of blasts that blew out windows and ripped away much of the front of one building. Police and soldiers rushed to the scene to evacuate victims, carrying out a heavily pregnant and bleeding woman on a stretcher.

Another woman wailed as she clutched her child. In the courtyard, mangled cars burned, and a blast crater extended at least two storeys deep.

“Today Russia committed a huge crime,” said Volodymir Nikulin, a top regional police official, standing in the wreckage. “It is a war crime without any justification.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter that there were “people, children under the wreckage” and called the strike an “atrocity”. Video shared by Zelenskyy showed cheerfully painted hallways strewn with twisted metal.

“There are few things more depraved than targeting the vulnerable and defenceless,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be held “to account for his terrible crimes”.

Source: Al Jazeera

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