The war between Russia and Ukraine continues to cause death and destruction. A media report has pieced together the grim news that hundreds of civilian lives were lost in a deadly bombing in March.
The Associated Press probe found that nearly 600 civilians died in a bombing attack on a Ukrainian theater on March 16, the Daily Wire reported. The news outlet called it the “single deadliest known attack against civilians to date.”
Ukrainian citizens had hunkered down in the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater in Mariupol, which was being used as a bomb shelter. “When people came in, they thought they were safe,” the venue’s longtime stage manager Elena Bila said. “In fact, they weren’t safe.”
Russian forces bombed the venue where as many as 1,300 people had gathered to find cover. However, estimates vary about how many people were there at the time and no official record exists.
To get a better idea of what happened, the AP painstakingly pieced together the facts using a 3D model of the theater to conduct interviews with 23 survivors, rescuers, and other witnesses. It found that the initial death toll of 300 was actually considerably higher.
Russia denies responsibility for the attack and claims that Ukrainian forces were behind the bombing of their own citizens. They also offered the theory that the theater became a target as it was being used for military operations, though the AP has found no evidence of that.
“They came not to capture the city — they came to destroy it,” Maria Kutnyakova, whose relatives survived the attack, said of the Russian military. “They are trying to hide how many people actually died in Mariupol, hide their crimes.”
The conflict between the two nations has dragged on without any discernable path to victory or defeat on either side. It’s unclear how the war will end, though it seems that Russia has no qualms about attacking innocent civilians and destroying cities — and that kind of enemy is most difficult to defeat.