ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 148

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23 killed in Uman missile attack, including 6 children, laid to rest

Zelensky says spring counteroffensive may not be able to wait for defense shipments; governor of Russian border region says four people killed in Ukrainian rocket attack

Mykhayl Shulha, center, cries next to the coffin of his sister Sofia Shulha during a funeral prayer in Uman, central Ukraine, April 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Mykhayl Shulha, center, cries next to the coffin of his sister Sofia Shulha during a funeral prayer in Uman, central Ukraine, April 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

UMAN, Ukraine (AP) — Relatives and friends cried next to coffins on Sunday as they buried children and others killed in a Russian missile attack on this central Ukrainian city, while fighting in the 14-month-long war claimed more lives elsewhere.

Almost all of the 23 victims of the attack on Friday died when two missiles slammed into an apartment building in Uman. Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said six children were among the dead.

Mykhayl Shulha, 6, cried and hugged relatives next to the coffin of his 11-year-old sister Sofia Shulha during Sunday’s funeral, while others paid respects to a 17-year-old boy.

As mourners held candles, crossed themselves and sang, the priest at the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God “Quick to Hear” waved a vessel containing incense over the coffins. He said the deaths had hit the entire community hard.

“I live nearby,” said Father Fyodor Botsu. “I personally knew the children, the littlest, from when they were very young, and I personally baptized them in this church. I’m worried with everyone since I have children and I’m a citizen of this country and have been living in this city for 15 years.”

He said he prayed “that the war should end and peace should come to our homes, city and country.”

Women cry next to a memorial for the victims who died during Friday’s Russian attack on a residential building in Uman, central Ukraine, April 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

At the damaged building in Uman, people brought flowers and photos of the victims.

Russia’s war brought more deaths elsewhere Sunday.

The governor of a Russian region bordering Ukraine said four people were killed in a Ukrainian rocket attack. The rockets hit homes in the village of Suzemka, 9 kilometers (6 miles) from the Ukrainian border, said Bryansk regional governor Alexander Bogomaz. He said two other residents were injured and that defense systems had knocked down some of the incoming shells.

Bryansk and the neighboring Belgorod region have experienced sporadic cross-border shelling throughout the war. In March, two people were reported killed in what officials said was an incursion by Ukrainian saboteurs in the Bryansk region.

Also Sunday, Gov. Oleksandr Prokudin said his Kherson region in Ukraine came under Russian artillery fire 27 times in the past 24 hours, killing one civilian.

An expected spring counteroffensive by Ukraine could be concentrated in the Kherson region, a gateway to Crimea and other Russian-occupied territory in the southern Ukrainian mainland. Ukrainian forces drove Russian forces out of the regional capital Kherson last year, a significant defeat for Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his visit to Warsaw, Poland, April 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, file)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the counteroffensive wouldn’t wait for the delivery of all promised military equipment.

“I would have really wanted to wait for everything that was promised,” Zelensky told Finnish, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian journalists. “But it happens that the terms [of weapons deliveries and counteroffensive], unfortunately, do not coincide a little bit. And, I will say frankly, we pay attention to the weather.”

Ukraine is particularly hopeful that it will receive Western fighter jets, but Zelensky said his forces wouldn’t delay the counteroffensive for that, so as not to “reassure Russia that we still have a few months to train on the planes, and only then will we start.”

Zelensky said he spoke Sunday with French President Emmanuel Macron about the weapons supply, and was pleased with its “speed and specificity.”

Firefighters carry a body recovered from the rubble of a residential building that was hit during a Russian attack in Uman, central Ukraine, April 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Macron’s office said he reiterated France’s commitment to providing Ukraine with “all the aid necessary to restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” and discussed long-term European military aid.

The head of the Wagner mercenary group that is leading Russia’s battle in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut gave an even more precise timetable for the Ukrainian counteroffensive. The Ukrainian military will launch the counteroffensive by May 15 because by then strong rains will have stopped and the soil will be dry enough for tanks and artillery to move, Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a video interview with a Russian journalist posted Saturday.

In other battlefield developments, Ukraine’s northern command said the Sumy and Chernihiv regions, which border Bryansk and Belgorod, came under fire 11 times during the night on Sunday.

In the Dnipropetrovsk region, a 48-year-old resident of Nikopol was killed, and two were injured, in Russian shelling, according to Gov. Serhii Lysak. He said six multi-story buildings and six private houses were damaged, as well as several other buildings, gas pipelines and a power line.

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