A Russian missile struck a theatre in Chernihiv, a city located just 50 kilometres south of the Belarusian border, leaving seven people dead and 144 wounded. Among the casualties were a six-year-old girl and 15 other children.

The theatre’s main square and a university building bore the brunt of the attack. The strike, which also damaged neighbouring structures and triggered a fire, has been labelled a “heinous” act by the United Nations.

Chernihiv was already under siege due to the ongoing invasion led by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Chernihiv’s Acting Mayor Oleksandr Lomako revealed that the theatre had been hosting a gathering of drone manufacturers when the missile struck. Lomako raised suspicions that the attack was premeditated. Lomako noted that the Russians were aware that civilians would also become victims of the act which he categorised as a war crime.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko revealed that many of the theatre occupants found shelter in the building’s basement and escaped the full force of the missile strike. Klymenko explained that some victims were in vehicles, some crossing the road, and some returning from church services at the time of the attack.

Chernihiv’s city centre, a popular spot for strolling and leisure activities especially on weekends, was bustling with people at the time of the attack.

Denise Brown, head of the UN’s mission in Ukraine, released a statement condemning the incident as a heinous act that violated international humanitarian law. Brown pointed out that such acts were strictly prohibited under this law and called for a thorough investigation into the incident.

Chernihiv has declared three days of mourning. Moscow has yet to provide an official comment on the Chernihiv theatre attack.

Meanwhile, Russia claims that a Ukrainian drone targeted a military airfield in Novgorod. According to Russian sources, the drone attack caused a fire and damaged one plane, but no casualties were reported.

In a separate development, the Kyiv air force has reported successfully downing 15 out of 17 Iranian-made drones.