Russia bomb theatre 'sheltering 1,200' people despite warning that children are inside 4 months ago

Russia bomb theatre 'sheltering 1,200' people despite warning that children are inside

'Large numbers of people' are buried under the debris

Russian forces have launched a horrific attack on a theatre sheltering up to 1,200 people, despite the word "children" being written on the ground outside the building.

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The theatre in the besieged city of Mariupol was being used as a safe haven from the endless bombardment of the city from Russian artillery.

Citizens had written the word "children" in Russian outside the building in letters big enough to be seen from the air, as a plea to Russian forces for them not to attack the building.

Despite this, the theatre was flattened by a "purposeful bomb attack."

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Satellite imagery taken days before the bombing shows the Russian word for 'children' written in front and behind the building (Maxar Technologies)

Mariupol’s deputy mayor, Serhiy Orlov, said between 1,000 and 1,200 people were in the building at the time of the attack.

Ukraine's foreign ministry said "large numbers of people" were buried under the debris, so the exact number of casualties is not yet known.

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In a statement, the ministry said: “The bomb strike demolished the central part of the theatre building, causing large numbers of people to be buried under the debris.

“The assessment of the exact number of persons affected is currently impossible due to ongoing shelling.

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“By delivering a purposeful bomb attack to the place of mass gathering of civilians Russia has committed another war crime.”

The country's Foreign Affairs Minister labelled the attack as "another horrendous war crime."

After the theatre attack, Vladimir Putin delivered a chilling televised address to Russians in which he promised to root out the "scum and traitors" in Russian society, Metro reports.

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In the speech on Wednesday, the Russian leader said: "Any people, and particularly the Russian people, will always be able to tell apart the patriots from the scum and traitors and spit them out like a fly that accidentally flew into their mouths.

"I am convinced that this natural and necessary self-cleansing of society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, cohesion, and readiness to meet any challenge."

Putin went on to launch a bizarre attack on those who "can’t get by without oysters or foie gras or so-called ‘gender freedoms," saying they "mentally exist there, and not here, with our people, with Russia."

The attack is the latest in a string of atrocities that have led to Putin being branded a war criminal by the US. On Wednesday, the US Embassy in Kyiv claimed that Russian troops shot 10 people waiting in line for bread.

And last week, a maternity ward in Mariupol was bombed by Russian artillery.

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