SLOVIANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) -Russian forces struck a market and a residential area in the city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, killing at least two people and injuring seven, according to officials.
A Reuters reporter on the scene saw yellow smoke billowing up from an auto supplies shop at the market, and flames engulfed rows of market stalls as firefighters tried to extinguish the blaze.
It was not immediately clear what munitions had been used in the attack on the frontline city in the Donetsk region, or how many people had been at the market when it was hit.
"Russians again deliberately target areas where civilians congregate," Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote in a Facebook post that detailed the toll of Tuesday's strikes. "This is sheer terrorism."
The city's mayor earlier said the city had come under mass shelling.
Both officials called for residents to evacuate after Russia fired several missile salvos into the city in recent days.
"The most important thing now is to save lives," Kyrylenko said.
Russia has denied deliberately attacking civilians since invading Ukraine on Feb. 24. Ukraine says Russia has been using inaccurate Soviet-era missiles to hit military and critical infrastructure, killing many civilians in wayward strikes.
Tuesday was the eighth anniversary of Ukraine recapturing Sloviansk from Russian proxy forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.
Russia has secured almost complete control of the neighbouring Luhansk region and is turning its attention to Sloviansk as a gateway to capture the rest of the Donetsk region.
Military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told a briefing that Russian forces were focusing their efforts on the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, firing artillery along the entire front line. He said Ukraine's army was trying to prevent Russia from creating conditions to launch an assault on Sloviansk.
In a residential neighbourhood across the city, several houses were damaged and fire fighters were tackling flames in a burning house where a missile hit on Tuesday afternoon.
Rescue workers said at least two people had been taken to hospital from that strike.
A bloodied Yuri Sherbako, 53, his face and leg patched up with bandages, told Reuters he was taking a break from repairing a roof when the shelling began.
“I dived between these two buildings to survive,” he said, pointing to two outhouses that had been largely destroyed and were still smouldering.
(Additional reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade, Writing by Alexander Winning, Editing by Timothy Heritage, William Maclean)