Russian bomb attack kills three, injures 52 in Ukraine's Kharkiv

KYIV (Reuters) -Russian guided bombs shattered an apartment building in Ukraine's second-largest city on Saturday, killing three people, injuring 52 and prompting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to call for more help to deal with the growing threat of such weapons.

Pictures posted online showed parts of the five-storey apartment building in ruins, with windows smashed, balconies wrecked and rubble strewn about a crater on the ground.

Prosecutors in Ukraine's eastern Kharkiv region put the casualty toll at three dead and 52 injured in the mid-afternoon attack, including three injured children. Regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov said four of those hurt were in serious condition.

"This Russian terror through guided bombs must be stopped and can be stopped," Zelenskiy wrote on Telegram.

"We need strong decisions from our partners to enable us to stop the Russian terrorists and Russian military aviation right where they are."

Later, in his nightly video address, Zelenskiy said Russian forces had used more than 2,400 guided bombs on Ukrainian targets in June alone, with about 700 aimed at Kharkiv.

He said after U.S. Congress gave delayed approval of a big aid package in April, Ukraine's replenished arms supplies had reduced the devastation and frequency of missile attacks and the same had to be done now to fend off these bombs.

"The significant reduction in Russian missile terror against Kharkiv and the region proves it is entirely possible to secure our cities and communities from Russian bombs," he said.

Ukraine, he said, needed promised military aid packages "without delay so that the agreements we reached with (U.S.) President Biden can be realised."

Ukraine and the U.S. signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement this month aimed at bolstering Ukraine's defense against Russia and getting Ukraine closer to NATO membership.

Russia has relied increasingly on relatively inexpensive guided bombs, dropped from a distance and involving fewer risks for its forces.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and has advanced slowly through Donetsk region in the east, capturing a string of villages since seizing the key industrial town of Avdiivka more than three months ago.

It launched a cross-border incursion north of Kharkiv last month, though Zelenskiy says the situation there has stabilised.

In the latest bomb attack, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said there had been four strikes on Kharkiv.

Regional governor Syniehubov said rescue work was proceeding at the building, which housed a store on the ground floor.

Kharkiv Police Chief Serhiy Bolvinov told public broadcaster Suspilne that three floors had collapsed, but he believed no one was trapped under the rubble.

Kharkiv lies about 30 km (20 miles) from the border with Russia. The city of 1.3 million people has frequently been targeted in Russian attacks during nearly 28 months of war.

Moscow denies deliberately targeting civilians but thousands have been killed and injured in the war.

(Reporting by Olena Harmash; editing by Jason Neely, Ron Popeski, Angus MacSwan and Rod Nickel)