Ukraine’s ‘Vampire’ projectiles strike Russian shopping centre, killing six

Rescuers working at the site of the damaged shopping centre in Belgorod (Picture: AFP)

‘Vampire’ projectiles were unleashed on a shopping mall in Russia’s southern city of Belgorod.

At least six people were killed, including one child, in the attack not far from the Ukrainian border.

Regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on social media that 18 others were wounded, including five children.

Footage circulating on social media showed several ambulances parked outside the heavily damaged centre with shattered windows.

The blooded body of a young woman can be seen covered with a jacket next to a car, among the wreckage.

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Another video of the aftermath of the strike shows people searching through the piles of bent metal and broken glass.

Ukraine used the Czech-made RM-70 ‘Vampire’ multiple rocket launcher system, nicknamed ‘Bloodsucker’, Russia said in a statement.

Mounted on a Tatra military tactical truck, it allows the launch of as many as 40  122mm rockets in less than 30 seconds.

The RM-70 Vampire can be ready to fire in less than three minutes. The truck can then flee its combat position in three minutes.

The Russian defence ministry said its air defence systems had shot down some 14 Ukrainian missiles from the ‘Bloodsucker’ over the Belgorod region.

A damaged car following outside the mall (Picture: Reuters)
The RM-70 Vampire

Belgorod is the nearest major Russian city to the border with Ukraine, and the city and surrounding region have come under frequent attack during the war.

Russian authorities said 25 civilians were killed in the biggest of these at the end of December.

The governor of the neighbouring Kursk region, Roman Starovoit, said the attack is ‘a new crime of the Ukrainian Nazis’ – language typical of the way that Russian officials refer to Ukraine in order to justify their invasion.

Starovoit said a shopping mall, an outdoor sports facility and residential areas were hit. But he did not provide an official death toll.

‘The enemy is deliberately hitting a cluster of civilians,’ the governor said.

A correspondent from the defence ministry-owned Zvezda television channel said that six people had been killed in the vicinity of the Magnit shopping centre.

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Meanwhile, the news outlet Mash put the total death toll at nine.

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