Four dead, dozens injured after missile fragments rain down on civilians in Russia-occupied Crimea

Russia is holding the United States responsible for an attack on Sevastopol that involved ATACMS missiles Washington gave Ukraine. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army

June 23 (UPI) -- At least four people were killed and dozens injured when Russia shot down Ukraine-launched missiles over Sevastopol, Kremlin officials said.

Mikhail Razhayev, the city's Russia-installed mayor, said on Telegram that two children were among the dead and 82 people were hospitalized.

He added later that 35 medical specialists were being transported to the city to "assess the condition of the victims and evaluate the need and possibility of transporting patients."

The Investigative Committee of Russia has also opened a criminal case into the incident, he said, while stating it will be investigated as a terrorist attack.

Russia's Ministry of Defense said Kyiv on Sunday launched five U.S.-supplied missiles equipped with cluster warheads at Sevastopol. Four of the missiles were intercepted, it said, adding that the fifth detonated mid-flight, raining fragments down upon civilians.

It is blaming the strike on the United States, stating on Telegram that "all flight missions for the American ATACMS operational-tactical missiles are entered by American specialists based on U.S.' own satellite reconnaissance data."

"Therefore, responsibility for the deliberate missile attack on civilians in Sevastopol lies primarily with Washington, which supplied these weapons to Ukraine, as well as the Kyiv regime, from whose territory this attack was launched."

The ministry vowed that "such actions will not go unanswered."

Monday has been declared a day of morning in Sevastopol, Razhayev said, adding that all entertainment events in the city have been cancelled.

Sevastopol is located in Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

The United States has been Ukraine's largest backer in its war against the Kremlin, giving Kyiv more than $50 billion in military assistance since Russia invaded the European nation in February 2022, according to the U.S. State Department.

The United States had banned Ukraine from using its weaponry on Russian territory out of fears of escalating the conflict, but late last month U.S. President Joe Biden gave Kyiv's military authorization to use the lethal aid in limited strikes against military targets on Kremlin land.