Russian forces on Saturday reportedly shelled a Ukrainian mosque sheltering more than 80 people in the besieged port city of Mariupol, where hundreds of thousands of civilians are currently trapped and struggling to survive in increasingly dire conditions.
"More than 80 adults and children are hiding there from the shelling, including citizens of Turkey," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry wrote in a tweet early Saturday.
According to the Associated Press, "There was no immediate word of casualties from the shelling of the mosque. Mariupol has seen some of the greatest misery from Russia's war in Ukraine as unceasing barrages have thwarted repeated attempts to bring in food and water and to evacuate trapped civilians."
Reports that Russia shelled the Mariupol mosque came as the country's military forces intensified their assault on major Ukrainian cities and continued advancing on Kyiv, the capital. Russia has denied targeting civilian centers.
The United Nations said Friday that it has thus far recorded 549 civilian deaths and 957 injuries from Russia's assault on Ukraine, which is now in its third week with no end in sight. The U.N. has acknowledged that its estimate of civilian casualties is likely a significant undercount.
"Civilians are being killed and maimed in what appear to be indiscriminate attacks, with Russian forces using explosive weapons with wide-area effects in or near populated areas. These include missiles, heavy artillery shells, and rockets, as well as airstrikes," Liz Throssell, a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said during a press briefing on Friday.
"Civilian casualties are rising daily, as is general human suffering," Throssell continued. "We remind the Russian authorities that directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects, as well as so-called area bombardment in towns and villages and other forms of indiscriminate attacks, are prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes."