On March 17th, alleged Russian bombardment struck the village of Merefa, wounding up to 26 people and killing up to 23 others. Sources were conflicted as to whether those killed were members of the Ukrainian military or civilians.
Susplilne Media described a Russian “artillery” attack upon Merefa. Twitter user @tincazzi posted pictures of the remains of an alleged Russian missile, asking for followers to help identify what the user believed was a “long range cruise missile”. Telegram user Kharkiv_1654 posted that a “Russian rocket blew up a school today in the city of Merefa.” The initial report from Suspline described the scene in Merefa, at 3:30 a.m., saying that Russian shelling destroyed a school and a cultural center, and damaged nearby houses. Suspline went on to quote Veniamin Sitov, head of the Merefyansk community: “We got to the center of the cultural center, nothing was left of it. There were people in it. Of the civilians, thank God, there are no victims, there are some of the military. The civilians managed to escape the destruction, the military was sent to the hospital,” said Sitov.
According to the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office, 21 people died, 25 were injured, 10 of them were in serious condition. This report was later released and supported by Censor.Net News, Slk.kh.ua, Slovoidilo.ua, and Zaxid News. Zaxid was the first to list the number of wounded as twenty-six. In addition to the detail about the destruction, these reports, as well as Facebook posts from Prokuratura Kharkiv, also noted that investigators of the State Security Service of Ukraine in the Kharkiv Region launched a pre-trial investigation into the fact of violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with intentional murder (Part 2 of Article 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).
RBC-Ukraine News reported that, “in the Kharkiv region, the consequences of enemy attacks on Merefa continue to be eliminated. The number of dead and injured continues to grow.” Sq.com.ua and and Newsroom.kh.ua later noted an increase in casualties, both elevating the number of wounded to twenty-six and the dead to twenty-three.
A Telegram message by user Perviy Kharkovskyi, identified as a Telegram channel with a clear pro-Russian stance, reiterated that a Russian “Kalibr” missile caused the casualties but referred to those killed and injured as soldiers, and went on to question why soldiers were in a school and the cultural center, “civilian objects.”
This assessment has reference to ACLED code UKR53681 and Bellingcat code CIV0410.
The incident occured in the evening.
Sources (38) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention the village of Merefa (Мерефа), for which the generic coordinates are: 49.809894, 36.056189. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.