They estimate that 300 people died in the attack on the Mariupol Theater

Live, Ukraine (CNN) –– The city council quoted eyewitnesses as saying that about 300 people were believed to have been killed in the Russian attack on a theater in Mariupol nine days ago.

According to Ukrainian officials, the March 16 bombing of a theater in Mariupol, which housed up to 1,300 people, was one of Russia’s most heinous attacks on civilians since the invasion began in late February. .

On the floor of the building, in large Russian letters, the word “children” was drawn. The news, big enough to be seen from the sky, was exploited near a public square. Russia has denied that its troops attacked the theater, but said that the Azov battalion, the main Ukrainian military presence in Mariupol, had detonated it.

The city council announced the update on its Telegram channel: “Unfortunately, we started the day with bad news. There is information based on eyewitnesses that about 300 people were killed as a result of the shelling at the Mariupol theater. Russian aviation.”

“We still do not want to believe this terror. We still want to believe that everyone was able to escape. But the words of those who were inside the building during this terrorist act say otherwise.”

Earlier this week, Pedro Andriyushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, said the number of survivors of the attack was about 200.

“The resident knew where he was attacking. He knew what the consequences would be. The bombs fell on this spot anyway,” the council statement continued Friday.

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The theater was used as one of the main shelters in Mariupol, which has been heavily bombed since the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Information about the full range of the attack was delayed as the city’s essential services, including communications networks, were almost completely disrupted.

Mariupol, the besieged city

The coastal city has been under siege for several weeks and has suffered some of the worst attacks of the war since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February. There has been no word yet on the possible casualties after a single attack on a building Art School It was also used as a shelter for up to 400 people.

Basic services like gas, electricity and water are not working in the city. The corpses are left on the street because there is no one to pick them up, or it is too dangerous to try.

Last week, Russian forces deported thousands of Mariupol residents to cities far from Russia, according to city officials and witnesses. On Monday, Moscow invited Mariupol to surrender, and Ukraine quickly rejected the idea.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in Mariupol, blaming Ukrainian forces for the killings.

Andriushchenko told CNN on Sunday that it was not possible to recover, identify or treat those killed in the war in the city.

In a video message posted on Facebook early Sunday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky said the siege of Mariupol would go down in history as a war crime. “Doing this for a peaceful city … is a horror that will be remembered for centuries,” he added.

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Eliza McIntosh of CNN contributed to this report from Lviv, Ukraine.

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