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Ukraine war: Two French volunteers killed in Russian drone strike

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French President Emmanuel Macron has confirmed two French aid workers were killed in a Russian strike in Ukraine, condemning the attack as “cowardly”.

“My solidarity goes out to all the volunteers who are committed to helping people,” he said in a post on X.

Ukrainian officials earlier said two foreign volunteers had been killed in the southern Beryslav town on Thursday.

Switzerland’s non-governmental organisation HEKS/EPER later said two of its employees were killed.

“At approximately 2:30 PM, an attack targeted HEKS/EPER employees during a field assessment, resulting in the tragic loss of two dear colleagues and injuries to others,” the NGO said in a statement that also condemned the attack.

It said the attack happened in south-eastern Ukraine on 1 February, without publicly naming the victims or stating their nationalities.

It is still unclear whether the killed employees HEKS/EPER was referring to were the same French nationals.

The government in Paris is yet to provide any details on the victims’ identities and their employers.

Russia has not commented on the reported strike in Beryslav, Kherson region.

A number of foreign volunteers have been killed in Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of its south-western neighbour in February 2022.

Referring to Thursday’s attack, Ukrainian officials said another four people – including three foreign volunteers – were injured in a “massive” drone attack on the front-line town on the Dnipro River, about 60km (37 miles) north-east of the regional capital Kherson.

French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné later said three of the injured were also French nationals.

Russia would “answer for its crimes” and “barbarity”, Mr Séjourné added.

In a post on X, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote: “Russian terror knows no boundaries or nationalities.

“The brave French aid workers assisted people and we will always be grateful for their humanity.”

Beryslav, Kherson and other Ukrainian towns on the right (west) bank of the Dnipro River have been regularly attacked by Russian troops from the territory they have seized on the left bank.

Two people were killed and another six injured in Russian shelling of the region over the last 24 hours, local officials said on Friday.

Map highlighting where Ukrainian and Russian forces are around Krynky and Kherson, southern Ukraine

Map highlighting where Ukrainian and Russian forces are around Krynky and Kherson, southern Ukraine

In September 2023, Emma Igual, the Spanish director of Road to Relief, and Anthony Ihnat, a Canadian colleague, were killed in a Russian strike in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.

In January 2023, British nationals Chris Parry and Andrew Bagshaw, who had been earlier reported missing in the same region, were confirmed killed. Their families said they had died while “attempting a humanitarian evacuation”.

The British Broadcasting Corporation

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