A woman was killed and six more people injured after missiles fell near an Orthodox cathedral.
The Ukrainian forces targeted central Donetsk with multiple launch rocket system fire early on Sunday morning, with several projectiles landing in close vicinity of the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral, forcing an evacuation and disrupting the Orthodox Easter celebrations.
As many as 20 MLRS rockets were fired around 3:25am from the direction of Ukraine-held settlement of Ochertenino some 30km northwest of Donetsk, according to the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC) monitoring group. In the hours after the initial attack, a total of twelve 155mm artillery shells hit the city in multiple volleys, while authorities were dealing with the aftermath and tending to the victims.
The overnight attack took place just as dozens of Orthodox Christians were leaving the cathedral following the Easter vigil. The explosions forced several panicked people to drop to the ground, while others, including children, rushed back inside the church to seek shelter, according to videos shared on social media.
At least one person was killed and six others injured, according to preliminary reports. One of the victims was an assistant deacon who suffered a shrapnel injury to his stomach upon leaving the service, a witness told RT.
While none of the missiles hit the cathedral directly, at least one projectile reportedly struck less than 100 meters away.
“The enemy deliberately attacked the area of the central cathedral on Easter night,” the acting head of Russia’s Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Denis Pushilin, claimed in a Telegram post. “Scums and savages! Our combat crews are already working to neutralize the bastards.”
Multiple civilian facilities in the area of the central square were hit, including a bus station, a pharmacy, several stores and a market some 200 meters away from the cathedral. A kindergarten caught fire as a result of a near-direct strike, according to another video.
Pushilin had warned the public, following a deadly attack on the town of Yasinovataya on Friday, to exercise extreme caution while celebrating Easter because “the enemy has intensified the shelling… during the holidays.”
The capital of the Donetsk People’s Republic had suffered numerous Ukrainian attacks after rejecting the 2014 Maidan coup in Kiev, which intensified weeks before Russia launched its military operation in February 2022, and have taken a heavy toll ever since.
Last October, the DPR was incorporated into Russia together with the People’s Republic of Lugansk and Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, following referendums in which the local populations voted overwhelmingly in favor of the move.