An attempted Ukrainian evacuation of civilians from the shattered city of Mariupol, where many remain trapped, was “thwarted” by Russian forces on Saturday, a city official said.
“The evacuation was thwarted,” Mariupol city official Petro Andryushchenko said on Telegram, adding that around 200 residents had gathered at the evacuation meeting point announced by Kyiv, but Russian forces “dispersed” them.
He claimed others were told to board buses headed to Dukuchayevsk, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north, which is controlled by Russia.
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“The people did not have the right to leave the bus,” he said. Russian forces blamed “firing by [Ukrainian] nationalists at the evacuation point” for changing the destination, he added.
“Once again the Russians have disrupted an evacuation,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk had earlier announced that Ukraine would make a new attempt on Saturday to evacuate civilians from Mariupol and warned that Russian forces could try to organize a parallel evacuation route to Russia.