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EU condemns Russian bombing of Mariupol maternity hospital as a ‘war crime’

Bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell calls for allowing safe passage of civilians fleeing fighting; Moscow claims attack that killed three was ‘staged provocation’

A woman walks outside the damaged by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
A woman walks outside the damaged by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Top European Union officials on Thursday condemned Russia’s bombing of a maternity hospital in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol as a “war crime.”

“Mariupol is under siege. Russia’s shelling of [a] maternity hospital is a heinous war crime,” the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wrote in a tweet.

“Strikes of residential areas from the air and blocks of access of aid convoys by the Russian forces must immediately stop. Safe passage is needed, now,” he added.

European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen called the attack “inhumane, cruel and tragic.”

“I am convinced that this can be a war crime. We need a full investigation,” she tweeted.

The children’s and maternity hospital in Mariupol was attacked on Wednesday in what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described as a Russian “war crime,” and which sparked global outrage.

An injured pregnant woman in a maternity hospital hit by Russian shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Local officials said Thursday that at least three people were killed in the bombing, including a young girl.

Video shared from the site by rescue workers showed a scene of complete devastation, with the wounded being evacuated, some on stretchers, past charred and burning cars, and a massive crater by the building.

The Russian army claimed Thursday that the attack was a “staged provocation” by Ukraine.

“The Russian aviation carried out absolutely no missions to hit targets on the ground in the Mariupol area,” Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed. “The airstrike that allegedly took place is a completely staged provocation to maintain anti-Russian hype for a Western audience,” he said.

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