Ukraine attacked the Russian-occupied southern city of Melitopol on Saturday evening, the Kremlin-installed local authorities and Ukrainian officials said.

The strategically located city, which had a pre-war population of just over 150,000 people, is located in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia that Moscow claims to have annexed.

Russian-installed officials and Ukrainian authorities issued conflicting reports about the target of the strikes and the casualties, and AFP was not immediately able to verify the information.

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Yevgeny Balitsky, the Russia-installed head of Zaporizhzhia region, said that using US-supplied HIMARS long-range rocket launchers, Ukrainian troops struck Melitopol at around 9:00 pm Saturday.

He claimed that the attack had destroyed a "recreation centre" on the outskirts of Melitopol, killed two people and injured another 10. The place was hit when people were eating dinner, he added.


Balitsky said two rockets had been shot down, while another four reached their target.

Another Moscow-installed regional official, Vladimir Rogov, released a picture of a major fire ravaging the "recreation centre."

Ivan Fedorov, the exiled mayor of Melitopol, said for his part that Ukrainian forces hit Russian troops in Melitopol and that dozens of "invaders" had been killed.

There was no immediate comment from Ukraine's armed forces.

HIMARS have been playing a key role in counteroffensives against Moscow's troops in the east and south of Ukraine.

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Russian forces seized Melitopol in the beginning of the offensive which began on February 24.

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