Only hours after the latest international pleas to spare the area around Ukraine's mainfrom attacks, there were new claims of Russian shelling close to the facilities early Monday.
Nikopol, on the the opposite bank of the Dnieper River and about 6 miles downstream from the plant, came under fire three times during the night from rockets and mortars, hitting houses, a kindergarten, the bus station and stores, regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said. Ukraine media reported that four people were wounded.
"People are afraid," Natalia Horbolit, the deputy mayor of Nikopol, told CBS News' Charlie D'Agata last week. "Everybody is afraid" of the worst happening, she said.
Horbolit said around 40% of the city's residents had fled since the worst of the shelling around Europe's largest nuclear power plant began last month. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has warned of grave consequences if the facility is hit and called on both sides to let it be made a formal demilitarized zone.
After U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres again urged caution during a visit to Ukraine last week, U.S. President Joe Biden further discussed the issue with the leaders of France, Germany and Britain on Sunday.
The four leaders stressed the need to avoid military operations in the region to prevent the possibility of a potentially devastating nuclear accident and called for the U.N.'s atomic energy agency to be allowed toas soon as possible.
Yet, nothing seemed certain in a war that has spread fear and unease far beyond the frontlines in eastern and southern Ukraine and also into the Russia-annexed Crimea peninsula and as far as Moscow, where onkilled the daughter of an influential Russian political theorist often referred to as "Putin's brain."
On Monday, Russian authorities were looking for further clues who could be behind the incident, after authorities said preliminary information indicated 29-year-old TV commentator Daria Dugina was killed by an explosive planted in the SUV she was driving.
A former Russian opposition lawmaker, Ilya Ponomarev, said an unknown Russian group, the National Republican Army, claimed responsibility for the bombing. The AP could not verify the existence of the group. Ponomarev, who left Russia after voting against its annexation of Crimea in 2014, made the statement to Ukrainian TV.
Ukraine officials have denied involvement.
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