At least 25 people were killed on Sunday when artillery shells hit a market in Donetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine occupied by Russian forces, the pro-Moscow head of the region said, blaming Ukrainian forces for the strike.

If confirmed, the episode would be one of the most serious in recent months involving civilians in an area controlled by Moscow. Ukraine’s military released a statement on Facebook late on Sunday that referred to the market attack, but said it was not responsible. “Donetsk is Ukraine,” the statement by the Tavria military grouping said.

Denis Pushilin, the pro-Moscow leader in the Russia-held part of the region, said on the Telegram messaging app that 20 people had also been wounded at the market, which is in the Kirovsky district and southwest of the city center. The area is roughly eight miles east of the front line in the war.

The pro-Russian mayor of Donetsk, Aleksei Kulemzin, said on Telegram that the market “was attacked on Sunday, when it is busiest,” calling it “horrendous.”

Reuters and The Associated Press carried footage they said they had verified of the immediate aftermath of the attack. It showed bodies in civilian clothes scattered in the snow in an urban street and wounded people being helped by passers-by.

Russia annexed Donetsk and Luhansk as well as two other regions of Ukraine in fall 2022, around seven months after the start of its full-scale invasion. Ukraine and most international governments condemned the annexations as illegal, but according to Moscow, Donetsk is now part of Russia’s sovereign territory and the region’s citizens are Russian.

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