Ukrainian and Russian officials blamed each other Saturday for the deaths of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in an attack on a prison in a separatist-controlled area. The International Red Cross asked to visit the prison to make sure the scores of wounded POWs had proper treatment but said late Saturday its request had not been granted so far, the AP reports. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Red Cross and the United Nations have a duty to react to the shelling of the prison complex in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk province, and he called again for Russia to be declared a terrorist state. "Condemnation at the level of political rhetoric is not enough for this mass murder," Zelensky said.
The ICRC, which has organized civilian evacuations and monitored the treatment of POWs held by Russia and Ukraine, said, "Our priority right now is making sure that the wounded receive lifesaving treatment and that the bodies of those who lost their lives are dealt with in a dignified manner." The organization posted a tweet saying, "Granting ICRC access to POWs is an obligation of parties to conflict under the Geneva Conventions." Both Ukraine and Russia alleged the attack was intended to silence Ukrainian prisoners and destroy evidence. Russia claimed Ukraine's military used US-supplied precision rocket launchers against the prison in Olenivka, a settlement controlled by the Moscow-backed Donetsk People's Republic. The Ukrainian military accused the Russians of shelling the prison to cover up the torture and execution of Ukrainians there.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, said that full responsibility for the attack can't yet be assigned but that the "available visual evidence appears to support the Ukrainian claim more than the Russian." Moscow has opened a probe, and the UN said it was prepared to send investigators. Elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, Russian rockets hit a school in Kharkiv and a bus station in Sloviansk, among other strikes. In southern Ukraine, one person was reported killed and six injured in shelling in a residential area in Mykolaiv, officials said. On Saturday, Azov fighters' relatives demonstrated outside Kyiv's St. Sophia Cathedral and called for Russia to be designated a terrorist state for violating the Geneva Convention's rules for the treatment of prisoners. One woman was waiting for news of her 23-year-old son. "I don't know how is he, where is he, if he is alive or no. I don't know," she said. "It's a horror, only horror."
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