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Orthodox Church in ruins after Russian missile attack on Ukraine leaves three dead

by Reuters Journalist

Two young women and a man were killed and nine other people were wounded in a Russian missile attack, which destroyed an ornate Ukrainian Orthodox church in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia.

Rescuers sifted through debris and an ambulance was parked near damaged buildings.

"Three people dead and nine people injured including an 11-month baby - this is the result of the strike on the regional centre," a statement from President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office said. "The Russian shell took away the lives of a 43-year-old man and young women who were 19 and 21."

Officials said two of the people had been killed on the spot and a woman had died of their injuries hospital.

A video posted by Zelenskiy showed smoke rising from burning and badly damaged buildings next to a church. 

Zaporizhzhia city council secretary Anatoliy Kurtev said the church had been destroyed and about 15 high-rise buildings had been damaged. The authorities received requests from residents of at least 400 apartments to repair smashed windows and damaged balconies.

Pictures posted by city officials on the Telegram messaging app showed several buses and a row of foldable tables and chairs set up outside near damaged buildings where residents and city workers were filling in papers to record the damages.

Ukrainian officials have reported a recent increase in the amount of Russian shelling of the Zaporizhzhia region in the south.

Zelenskiy's office said the Russian military is conducting more strikes on villages and towns across the Zaporizhzhia region, using artillery, missiles and drones.

The Ukrainian military launched an offensive on occupying Russian forces in the key Zaporizhzhia region at the start of the summer and reported steady advances in that direction.

Orthodox churches in Ukraine have been at odds with their Russian counterparts since Vladimir Putin's forces invaded the country nearly 18 months ago.  Russian Patriarch Kirill's promotion and justification of Vladimir Putin's war effort has been increasing over that time.  The Russian Orthodox Church has traditionally been a strong supporter of the secular authorities in Russia.

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