Russian airstrike targets Orthodox Christian monastery where 200 children were sheltering: Report

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An Orthodox Christian monastery in Ukraine sheltering hundreds of refugees, including children, was reportedly hit by an airstrike Saturday night.

“Window frames flew out as a result of the terrible force of the explosion in the Lavra’s temples,” a statement from Ukraine’s parliament said, according to the Washington Post. “An explosive wave smashed all the windows and doors in the Lavra hotels.”

The Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, said about 500 refugees, including 200 children, were taking shelter in the Holy Dormition Svyatogorsk Lavra, located in the Donetsk region. The airstrike happened about 10 p.m. local time, the Washington Post reported. 

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    Svyatogorsk Lavra in the Donetsk region after it was targeted  (State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine )

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    Svyatogorsk Lavra in the Donetsk region after it was targeted  (State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine )

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    Svyatogorsk Lavra in the Donetsk region after it was targeted  (State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine )

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    Svyatogorsk Lavra in the Donetsk region after it was targeted  (State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine )

Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said nearly 1,000 people were in the monastery Saturday when it was hit by “Russian planes and artillery.” 

“As a result, one person was hospitalized, two went to the emergency room in Slovyansk on their own; another 30 people, who received minor injuries, were treated on the spot,” Kyrylenko posted on Telegram, according to an English translation. 

Refugees and monks were evacuated to the monastery’s basement, Ukraine’s parliament reported. Kyrylenko said the children’s regional health center, known as the “Pearl of Donetsk,” was also damaged. 

The monastery is historic and dates back as far as 1526. 

Days ahead of Russia first invading Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of breakaway territories, Luhansk and Donetsk. Both territories, located in eastern Ukraine,  have been led by pro-Russia leaders for more than a decade.

“The occupiers crossed all possible boundaries of common sense and humanity. They must receive proper punishment for their hellish crimes!” Kyrylenko posted on Telegram, according to a translation. 

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