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Ukraine says it hit two Russian ships off occupied Crimea




The Ukrainian military has said it hit two large Russian landing ships in overnight attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula as well as other infrastructure used by the Russian navy in the Black Sea.

“The defence forces of Ukraine successfully hit the Azov and Yamal large landing ships, a communications centre and also several infrastructure facilities of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in temporarily occupied Crimea,” Ukraine’s military said on Sunday.

The military’s statement did not say how it hit the targets, but a Moscow-installed official in the region reported a major Ukrainian air attack, and said air defences had shot down more than 10 missiles over the Crimean port of Sevastopol.

“It was the most massive attack in recent times,” the Russian-appointed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said in a Telegram post.

He said that a 65-year-old man was killed and four people were injured and that transport infrastructure including passenger boats and buses were partially damaged, with windows broken on five boats.

Three passenger buses, 13 school buses and one trolley bus were among the vehicles damaged, he added.

Footage shared on social media showed a large blast in the city sending a fireball and plume of black smoke into the air, as well as what appeared to be Russian air defences intercepting incoming projectiles.

Ukraine has claimed to have destroyed around a third of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, usually in attacks at night using sea-based drones packed with explosives.

Satellite images show Russia has moved much of the fleet further east, to the port of Novorossiysk, amid the spate of attacks.

Patrick Bury, defence and security analyst at the University of Bath, said the attack would not have a strategic impact on the war.

“Up until a few weeks ago, this would have been really important because the Russians were using those landing crafts to resupply troops down south. But it looks like they have now engineered a railway line, so it won’t have a strategic impact,” Bury told Al Jazeera.

“But by pushing the Black Sea Fleet back further east and out of the Black Sea essentially, it is allowing Ukraine to get more grains exports out which is important to the war economy,” he added.

Increased frequency of Russian attacks

Russia has significantly escalated its air attacks against Ukraine in recent days, in what it says is retaliation for a wave of Ukrainian strikes on its border regions.

In the early hours of Friday, Moscow launched its largest aerial barrages against Ukraine’s energy sector since the start of the war.

Moscow has also resumed targeting the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. On Sunday, Kyiv and the western region of Lviv came under a “massive” Russian air attack, according to Ukrainian officials. They said that while there were no casualties, Russia had fired 29 cruise missiles and 28 drones at its territory overnight.

Russian forces are also seeking to press their advantage in manpower and ammunition as Kyiv faces delays in supplies of additional Western aid.

On Saturday, Moscow claimed to have seized a village on the western outskirts of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.

Its capture last month of Adviivka, near the Russian-held stronghold of Donetsk, was the first major territorial gain made by Russia since the devastated city of Bakhmut was seized 10 months ago.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed that success as a sign that Russian forces were back on the offensive.

“[Ukraine’s President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy himself said that Russia has won the winter, and I think the momentum has shifted to the Russian forces on the ground at least. Adviivka is proof of that,” Bury said.

“The big question now is whether there is something brewing in probably the month of May once the mud starts to dry in that area of Ukraine. So we will have to wait and see,” he said, adding that the Russians will be doing their absolute best to camouflage any kind of troop build-up if a spring offensive is on the cards.

Russian missile breaches Polish airspace

Meanwhile, Poland’s army said that one of the Russian missiles fired at western Ukraine had entered its airspace.

“Polish airspace was breached by one of the cruise missiles fired in the night by the air forces… of the Russian Federation,” the army posted on X.

“The object flew through Polish airspace above the village of Oserdow [in Lublin province] and stayed for 39 seconds,” it said.

Poland, which has been a staunch ally of its neighbour Ukraine in the two years since the invasion, said on Sunday that it would demand an explanation from Moscow.



Al Jazeera and news agencies

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‘Obvious’ Sydney mall killer targeted women, Australian police say





New South Wales Police commissioner says videos of the attack ‘speak for themselves’.

Australian police have said they believe a man who fatally six stabbed people at a busy Sydney shopping centre specifically targeted women.

Five women and one man were killed on Saturday when a 40-year-old man went on a stabbing spree in the beach suburb of Bondi.

The women killed in the attack were identified as a 55-year-old designer, a 47-year-old architect and volunteer surf lifesaver, the 25-year-old daughter of an entrepreneur, a 27-year-old student from China and a 38-year-old new mother.

A 30-year-old Pakistani security guard, who reportedly tried to stop the attacker, was the only man killed in the attack.

The majority of those injured in the attack were also women.

New South Wales state Police Commissioner Karen Webb said on Monday that it was “obvious” the suspected attacker, Joel Cauchi, singled out women.

“It’s obvious to me, it’s obvious to detectives that seems to be an area of interest that the offender focused on women and avoided the men,” Webb told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“The videos speak for themselves, don’t they? That’s certainly a line for inquiry for us.”

Webb said officers were in the process of interviewing people close to Cauchi to gain “some insight into what he might have been thinking”.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the gender breakdown of the victims was “concerning”.

“The gender breakdown is of course concerning – each and every victim here is mourned,” he told ABC radio.

Videos shared on social media showed Cauchi, wearing shorts and an Australian national rugby league jersey, targeting mostly female victims as he rampaged through Westfield Bondi Junction shopping complex.

The attack was brought to an end when police inspector Amy Scott shot him dead.

Australia’s national flag has been set at half-mast at major venues, including the Parliament House and Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, in honour of the victims.



Al Jazeera and news agencies

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US military says it destroyed dozens of drones fired from Iran, Yemen





US Central Command says it hit more than 80 one-way attack drones aimed at Israel.

The United States has destroyed dozens of drones and at least six ballistic missiles aimed at Israel from Iran and Yemen, its military has said.

US forces hit more than 80 one-way attack drones, including seven UAVs targeted on the ground prior to launch, US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Monday.

“Iran’s continued unprecedented, malign, and reckless behaviour endangers regional stability and the safety of U.S. and coalition forces,” CENTCOM said in a post on X

“CENTCOM remains postured to support Israel’s defense against these dangerous actions by Iran. We will continue to work with all our regional partners to increase regional security.”

CENTCOM made the announcement after Iran late on Saturday launched its first-ever attack on Israeli territory in retaliation for a suspected Israeli attack on its embassy in Syria.

The attack involving more than 300 drones and missiles caused only modest damage as most were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system or the US and its partners.

Defense of Israel Activities Update

On April 13 and the morning of April 14, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces, supported by U.S. European Command destroyers, successfully engaged and destroyed more than 80 one-way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles (OWA UAV) and at least six…

— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) April 14, 2024

US President Joe Biden earlier praised US forces for their “extraordinary skill” in helping Israel take down “nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles.”

Biden described US support for Israel’s self-defence as “ironclad” but warned that Washington would not join any retaliatory action taken by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government against Tehran.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said US forces “remain postured to protect US troops and partners in the region, provide further support for Israel’s defence, and enhance regional stability.”

The threat of all-out war between Israel and Iran has put the region on tenterhooks, prompting calls for restraint from Middle Eastern neighbours and major powers.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday warned that the Middle East was on “the brink”.

“The people of the region are confronting a real danger of a devastating full-scale conflict. Now is the time to defuse and de-escalate,” Guterres told a UN Security Council meeting convened in response to the Iranian attack.



Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Iran claims ‘right to self-defence’ in Israel attack





Video Duration 01 minutes 24 seconds


Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations says his country’s drone and missile attack against Israel was ‘in the exercise of Iran’s inherent right to self-defence’. Saeid Iravani told the UN Security Council Iran is not seeking to escalate conflict in the region.

Published On 15 Apr 2024

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