Russian officials have meanwhile accused Ukraine of attacking the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

At least three people have been killed after Russia fired five missiles on Ukraine’s southern city of Zaporizhzhia, the regional governor said.

“What marks today’s strikes: first, there were two missile strikes, and then, about 40 minutes later, there were other strikes at the same place – just as rescuers, police started working,” Governor Ivan Fedorov said on national television.

Thirteen people were wounded, including a nine-year old boy, and four were hospitalised in grave condition. Two journalists were among the wounded.

At least three apartment blocks, 10 private houses, shops and an unidentified industrial facility were also damaged, Fedorov said.

Images from the site, shared by Fedorov and the interior ministry, captured shattered windows of a cafe and a small shop.

Ukraine’s air force issued a ballistic missile raid alert for the region, part of which is occupied by Russia.

Moscow has recently stepped up usage of ballistic missiles that are harder to intercept.

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Meanwhile on Friday, Russian officials accused Ukraine of attacking the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The Russian state-run RIA news agency quoted the facility’s press service as saying Ukrainian military drones attacked the power plant but caused no damage to its critical infrastructure.

“Recently, Ukrainian forces’ combat drones have been flying in the area of the Zaporizhzhia NPP. In particular, arrivals were recorded today in the area of the cargo port and nitrogen-oxygen station No. 2 of the Zaporizhzhia NPP,” RIA quoted the press service as saying.

There was no immediate public comment on the Russian allegations from Ukraine, and the attack could not be independently verified.

In the past, both sides in the two-year-old war have accused each other of shelling the plant.

The six reactors at the Zaporizhzhia plant, held by Russia and located close to the front line of the war in Ukraine, are not in operation, but the plant relies on external power to keep its nuclear material cool and prevent a catastrophic accident.

Front-line fighting

Earlier on Friday, Russia’s defence ministry said it had downed 53 Ukrainian drones.

It said “terrorist attacks with aerial drones” were foiled, adding that 44 of them were downed or intercepted in Rostov, where Russia’s Ukraine campaign headquarters is located.

Ukraine has for months launched drone attacks on several border regions as it tries to push back Russia’s advancing forces.

On Friday, a Ukrainian security source told the AFP news agency a drone attack on the Morozovsk air base in the Rostov region destroyed at least six Russian planes and “another eight were heavily damaged”. Moscow did not confirm the specific attack and the claims could not be independently verified.

Also on Friday, Ukraine warned that a key front-line town of Chasiv Yar in the eastern Donetsk region was coming under “constant fire” from advancing Russian troops.

And Moscow said it had captured the small village of Vodiane, on the outskirts of Donetsk city.

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