KHARKIV, Ukraine (Reuters) -Russian shelling killed at least seven civilians and wounded 17 in the city of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine on Thursday, local authorities said.
Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city, had been relatively quiet since Ukrainian forces regained territory around it and pushed back Russian troops this month, enabling the authorities to reopen the city metro network.
But Russia appears to have halted its retreat and a Reuters correspondent in Kharkiv said repeated explosions could be heard on Thursday as Russian forces dug in and maintained control of positions in villages north of the city.
“It’s too early to relax,” Kharkiv region Governor Oleh Synehubov said, reporting heavy fighting to the north and northeast of the city. “The enemy is again insidiously hitting the civilian population, terrorising them.”
Russia didn’t immediately comment on the situation in Kharkiv. It has denied targeting civilians in the “special military operation” is launched on Feb. 24.
When Kharkiv resumed its metro service on Tuesday, it asked the hundreds of people who had used the underground as a bomb shelter to free up the train carriages, but many said they were still too scared to return home.
In the neighborhood of Pavlove Pole, local resident Maryna Karabierova said others had become inured to the sounds of war after three months.
Karabierova, 38, said she had fled to Poland and Germany after the Russian invasion but later returned to Kharkiv.
“It’s loud here but it’s home at least,” she said as another blast was heard nearby. “It (explosions) can happen at any time, at night, during the day, this is what life is here.”
(Reporting by Mari Saito in Kharkiv and by Natalia Zinets in Kyiv, Editing by Timothy Heritage)