• Author, Matt Murphy
  • Role, BBC news

At least five people have been killed in a Russian drone and missile attack on the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, authorities say.

Another 53 people were injured in the explosion early Wednesday morning, regional chief Serhii Lysak wrote on Telegram. Officials said shops, schools and hospitals had been damaged by the strike.

Mr Lysak described the attack as “vicious”. Footage shared on social media showed a large plume of smoke and fire coming from buildings after the explosion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attack and again called on his Western allies to provide his government with additional air defense systems.

“Only two things can stop this Russian terror: modern air defense systems and the long-range capabilities of our weapons,” he wrote on social media.

Dnipro, a city with a pre-war population of about a million, has been a frequent target of Russian attacks since the war began more than two years ago. Last year, 40 people were killed after a Russian missile struck a residential apartment building in the city.

The Ukrainian air force said it shot down six drones and five of seven missiles aimed at the city on Wednesday morning.

But images posted by Lysak after the barrage showed buildings in the city centre that had been broken open and glass strewn across the ground.

Georgii, an elderly witness with a bandage around his nose and a bloody face, told Reuters news agency: “There was such a big explosion that the wave hit me and I fell.”

Among the injured was a 14-year-old girl, Mr Lysak said. Four other people in serious condition were being treated in hospital, he added.

Regional council head Mykola Lukashuk condemned what he called an act of “cynical terror” by Russian forces. An official day of mourning has been declared by city officials.

Elsewhere, two civilians were killed in overnight attacks in eastern Ukraine, officials in Donetsk and Luhansk said. In Kharkiv, one person was killed and eight others wounded — including an 8-year-old boy — in a Russian airstrike, local prosecutors said.

Russia has stepped up airstrikes on Ukraine in recent months. While Moscow denies targeting civilian infrastructure, the UN human rights monitoring mission said May was the deadliest month for civilian casualties in nearly a year.

President Zelensky has since made increasingly urgent requests for new air defense systems, urging his Western allies to ignore Russian threats that such actions could escalate tensions.

On Tuesday, he met Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, who has just taken over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Mr. Orban has long been Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in Europe and has frequently criticized EU aid packages for Ukraine. The men’s body language was not warm at the tense meeting in Kiev, where Mr. Orban urged Mr. Zelensky to seek a ceasefire and accelerate peace negotiations.

Elsewhere, the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday it had captured a key district in the hilltop settlement of Khasiv Yar, a small town in eastern Ukraine that has been the focus of fierce fighting for months.

The city, razed to the ground by relentless shelling, is seen as a possible base for Russian troops as they advance into the remaining Ukrainian territories in the Donetsk region.

Kiev has not yet responded to the claims.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military intelligence service has said it is responsible for the fire that broke out on a Russian warship in the Baltic Sea in April.

GUR spokesman Andriy Yusov told Reuters the agency had targeted the Serpukhov missile ship and was working with a pro-Kiev group called the Freedom of Russia Legion.

“Due to the sabotage, we managed to destroy the ship from the inside and completely destroy its communications and automation,” the legion said on its Telegram account.

It comes after Moscow claimed Ukraine carried out three drone attacks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Thursday. Russian management of the plant said several workers were injured in the attack.

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), called the attacks “a threat to nuclear safety and human lives” and added that they “must stop”.

Kiev has not yet commented on the allegations. The plant has been under Russian control since March 2022 and has been repeatedly attacked, with both sides blaming each other.