Dozens of people have been killed by Russian rocket attacks on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, according to an interior ministry adviser.
Anton Herashchenko’s remarks came in a Facebook post on Monday, hours after blasts were reported in Kharkiv by Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection in a brief statement on the Telegram messaging app.
“Kharkiv has just been massively fired upon by grads [rockets]. Dozens of dead and hundreds of wounded,” he said.
There was no immediate comment from Moscow on Herashchenko’s remarks, and Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify his claim.
Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from the city of Lviv, in western Ukraine, said the reports of deadly Russian strikes on densely populated civilian areas were disturbing.
“There are lots of pictures [circulating on social media] showing explosions and suggestions that Grad rocket fire has been used, others that bombs have been dropped by the air, and there are lots of [videos showing] flashes that indicate secondary explosions, and the use of cluster munitions in amongst all of that,” said Hull.
Elsewhere, there was a relative lull in the capital Kyiv where supermarkets were reopened and residents allowed out of bomb shelters and homes for the first time since a curfew was imposed on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the strategic port city of Mariupol was “hanging on”, according to Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Russian news agency Interfax reported that Russian troops advanced from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson towards the city of Mykolaiv.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian state communications service said in a post on Telegram that a missile had hit a residential building in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv near the border with Belarus.
Ukraine’s state energy company Energoatom dismissed claims by Russia that its troops had taken control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as fake news.
“Currently, all four nuclear power plants are under the control of Ukraine and are operating normally.”
Details of the military developments could not be independently verified.
The deaths in Kharkiv came a day after the Ukrainian troops repelled a significant Russian attack on the city on Sunday.
Videos posted on Ukrainian media and social networks showed Russian vehicles moving across the city of about 1.4 million people and a light vehicle burning on the street.
Later on Sunday, the regional governor, Oleh Sinegubov, wrote on Facebook that the Ukrainian forces regained full control over the country’s second-largest city.
“Control over Kharkiv is completely ours! The armed forces, the police, and the defence forces are working, and the city is being completely cleansed of the enemy,” he said.
Kharkiv is in Ukraine’s northeast, near the separatist-held regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, more than 400km (250 miles) from Kyiv.
The exact death toll of Ukraine’s Russian invasion is unclear, but the UN human rights chief said 102 civilians have been killed and hundreds wounded – warning that figure was likely a vast undercount.
Ukraine’s interior ministry reported 352 civilian deaths, including 14 children, as of Sunday night.
More than 500,000 people have fled the country since the invasion, another UN official said on Monday – among the millions who have left their homes.