On Sunday, Russian forces approaching Kyiv fired mortar shells at a broken bridge used by civilians running away from the war, sending helpless civilians fleeing and killing four people on the street.
Since Saturday, hundreds of people have gathered around the broken Irpin River bridge so as to be evacuated.
During the first few days of Russian invasion, Ukrainian forces bombed the bridge to halt the Russian advances. On Sunday, only a dozen or so Ukrainian soldiers were stationed at the bridge, not fighting but assisting civilians with baggage and children.
People attempting to flee to Kyiv organized small groups and made a run for it together. They had to run over a hundred yards or so of exposed street on the bridge’s closest side. Soldiers dashed out, picking up children or luggage, and fleeing behind a cinder block wall for safety.
The Russian mortar bombs landed 100 yards or so from the bridge, then shifted to a portion of roadway where people were fleeing in a series of deafening bangs. The unfortunate moment was witnessed by a New York Times crew, which included photojournalist Lynsey Addario, a security adviser, and Andriy Dubchak, a freelance journalist who filmed the scene.
As the mortars moved closer to the civilians, people hurried, carrying children behind them, looking for a safe place to hide. However, there was nowhere to hide. A shell landed in the street, scattering concrete dust and throwing one family — a mom, her teenage son, and her daughter, who appeared to be approximately 8 years old; and a family friend — to the ground.
Soldiers raced to aid the woman and her children, but they were already dead. A man with them still had a pulse, but he was unconscious and badly hurt. He died afterwards.
Their belongings were strewn about, including a blue roller suitcase and some backpacks, as well as a green carrying case for a small dog that appears to still be alive.
Nearby, Ukrainian forces were fighting, but not at the location where civilians were walking along the street. A Ukrainian position around 200 yards away could be heard firing mortar rounds.
The bombardment by Russian forces indicated either a deliberate targeting of Irpin’s evacuation routes, as the Ukrainian government has claimed after a train track used for evacuations was destroyed on Saturday, or a disdain for the risk of civilian lives.
Russian forces have been marching into Hostomel, Bucha, and Irpin, three tiny villages on Kyiv’s northwestern fringe, for days, and the conflict has pushed evacuees toward the capital.
Source: The New York Times.