KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Two foreign aid workers were reportedly killed in eastern Ukraine on Sunday as Russian shelling hit a van carrying a team of four working with a Ukrainian nongovernmental organization, while dozens of Russian drones targeted Kyiv and wounded at least one civilian.
The four volunteers from the Road to Relief group, which helps evacuate wounded people from front-line areas, were trapped inside the van as it flipped over and caught fire after being struck by shells near the town of Chasiv Yar, the organization said on its Instagram page.
Road to Relief said that Anthony Ihnat of Canada died in the attack, while German medical volunteer Ruben Mawick and Swedish volunteer Johan Mathias Thyr were seriously wounded, it said.
Road to Relief added that it couldn't trace the whereabouts of the van's fourth passenger, Emma Igual, a Spanish national who was the organization's director. Hours later, Spain’s acting Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares told Spanish media that authorities in Madrid had received “verbal confirmation” of the 32-year-old Igual's death.
The volunteers were on their way to assess the needs of civilians on the outskirts of Bakhmut, Road to Relief said, in reference to the eastern town that saw the war's longest and bloodiest battle before falling to Moscow in May. Ukrainian forces have held on to Bakhmut's western suburbs and are pushing a counteroffensive in the area.
Also on Sunday, Ukrainian officials reported that Russia launched “dozens” of drones at Kyiv and the surrounding region early in the morning, wounding at least five civilians.
Ukraine's air force later said it had brought down 26 out of a total of 33 drones. The head of Kyiv's military administration, Serhii Popko, reported that debris from Iranian-made Shahed drones fell in several districts of the city and wounded at least one civilian. Popko said there was no risk to the person's life, and added that most of the wreckage fell in open ground, although one high-rise apartment was damaged.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko later confirmed that one civilian was wounded in the city's historic center and received help on the spot.
The governor of the Kyiv region, which surrounds but doesn't include the capital, also reported that the drone strike wounded four people across the province, one of whom had to be hospitalized. In a Facebook post, Gov. Ruslan Kravchenko said that the drones damaged an infrastructure facility as well as civilian buildings including homes and stores, a hospital, a rehabilitation center, a school and a kindergarten.
Russia's Defense Ministry said in the early hours of Sunday that Moscow's forces earlier destroyed three U.S.-supplied speedboats carrying Ukrainian soldiers that had been traveling toward Russian-occupied Crimea. The claim couldn't be independently verified. Earlier on Sunday, the ministry said in a separate statement that Russian air defenses shot down eight Ukrainian drones targeting Crimea, as well as another that flew over the Bryansk region bordering Ukraine.
On Aug. 24, Ukrainian military intelligence said that its special forces landed in Crimea, which Moscow illegally took from Ukraine in 2014, and raised the Ukrainian flag along the peninsula's western shore before leaving “without casualties.”
Ukrainian army representatives on Sunday reported further small gains near Robotyne in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, where Kyiv has mounted a counteroffensive, days after Russian-installed authorities acknowledged that Russian forces had left the village.
Oleksandr Shtupun, a press officer for Ukraine’s Tauride Defense Forces, said on Ukrainian TV that Kyiv’s troops had retaken a further 1.5 square kilometers (0.6 square miles) near Rabotyne, and that heavy fighting is ongoing.
“The Russians are clinging to every meter of our Ukrainian land … however, the Ukrainian Defense Forces are trying to make it as difficult as possible to supply the Russian army, and in certain areas this is bearing fruit,” Shtupun said, without giving details.
Hours later, Ukraine’s General Staff said in the latest of its Facebook updates that its forces had “partial success” near Robotyne as well as Klishchiivka, a village 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) southwest of Bakhmut, dislodging Russian troops from their positions. It gave no further details, and the claim could not be verified.
A Washington-based think tank late on Saturday assessed, citing geolocated footage, that Russian forces had captured territory between Robotyne and two nearby villages: Verbove, some 10 kilometers (6 miles) east, and Novoprokopivka, 5 kilometers (3 miles) to the south.
The Institute for the Study of War also said in the latest of daily updates that Ukrainian forces had advanced along the border between the Zaporizhzhia region and the Donetsk province farther east, near Novomaiorske village. It acknowledged earlier Ukrainian claims of advances “south of Klischiivka,” but gave no evidence to support them.
Associated Press writer Aritz Parra in Madrid contributed to this report.
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