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'a war crime'

Zelensky: Russian strike on maternity hospital is 'proof of a genocide of Ukrainians taking place'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday accused Russia of committing a "war crime," after its forces bombed a maternity and children's hospital in the port city of Mariupol.

At least 17 people were hurt in the strike, Ukrainian officials said. "We don't understand how it's possible in modern life to bomb a children's hospital," Mariupol Deputy Mayor Serhiy Orlov told BBC News. "People cannot believe that it's true." Mariupol's city council posted video online showing the hospital after the attack, writing that several bombs were dropped from the air onto the hospital and the "destruction is enormous."

Zelensky is still asking NATO to declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying in a Telegram message that the alliance has "power but you seem to be losing humanity. Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror?" In a later message, Zelensky called the attack "final proof, proof of a genocide of Ukrainians taking place."

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed Ukrainian forces had "equipped combat positions" within the hospital, CNN reports. She did not provide any evidence.

Two U.S. officials told CNN on Wednesday that about 1,300 civilians have been killed in Mariupol since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24. With the city under siege, residents have been without water and electricity for several days, and "people are dying because of dehydration," Olena Stakoz of Ukraine's Red Cross told BBC News.