Ukraine conflict: Strike on Ukrainian maternity hospital kills newborn baby

A newborn baby has been killed in an overnight rocket attack on that struck a hospital maternity ward in southern Ukraine.

The child’s mother and a doctor were pulled alive from the rubble in the city of Vilniansk, Ukrainian authorities said. The region’s governor said the rockets were Russian.

The strike adds to the gruesome toll suffered by hospitals and other medical facilities as the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its tenth month.

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On Thursday, a rocket attack on a residential building in the city of Vilniansk on Thursday claimed the lives of nine people according to the deputy head of Ukraine's presidential office Kyrylo Tymoshenko.

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Patients and staff at health facilities have been in the firing line from the outset, including an air strike on March 9 that destroyed a maternity hospital in the now-occupied port city of Mariupol.

Regional governor, Oleksandr Starukh, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said: “At night, Russian monsters launched huge rockets at the small maternity ward of the hospital in Vilniansk.

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“Grief overwhelms our hearts — a baby was killed who had just seen the light of day. Rescuers are working at the site.”

Photos he posted show thick smoke rising above mounds of rubble, being combed by emergency workers against the backdrop of a dark night sky.

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A view of Kyiv during a partial blackout in the Ukrainian capital on November 22, 2022. - The World Health Organization warned that the upcoming winter would be "life-threatening" for millions of Ukrainians after a series of devastating Russian attacks on the country's energy grid. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

The state emergency service initially said a baby was killed and that a new mother and a doctor were pulled from the rubble, and that they were the only people in the ward at the time.

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The service specified in a follow-up post on Telegram that the rescued woman was the newborn’s mother.

The latest intelligence update from the UK’s Ministry of Defence said: “Russia has likely launched hundreds of Iranian-manufactured uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) against Ukraine. These have been a mixture of one way attack (OWA) UAVs and more traditional reusable armed systems.

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"However, recently Russian commanders likely also wanted Iranian-sourced UAVs to prioritise medical facilities as targets of opportunity, and strike them with guided munitions if identified.”

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It added: “Russia likely conceived of the UAV campaign to make up for its severe shortage of cruise missiles, but the approach has had limited success. Most UAVs launched have been neutralised.”