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NYT photographer captures chilling image of 4 Ukrainian civilians killed by Russian strike

The New York Times on Monday published at the top of its front page a chilling photo of four Ukrainian civilians, including two children, who were killed by Russian mortar fire as they were attempting to flee.

According to Lynsey Addario, the New York Times photographer who took the photo, the image shows Ukrainian soldiers trying to save a man, who is lying on the pavement moments after being hit by a mortar while trying to evacuate the town of Irpin, just west of the capital, Kyiv, on Sunday. Three other people — a woman, her teenage son and her daughter — lie dead behind him. The man later died.

Their luggage was left scattered about, along with a “green carrying case for a small dog that was barking,” Addario reported.

“We witnessed the Russian military bracket their mortars directly onto the civilian pedestrian path, where men, women, children, the elderly, ill and handicapped streamed out of Irpin,” Addario added in a post on Instagram. “I’ve witnessed many horrors in the past twenty years of covering war, but the intentional targeting of children and women is pure evil.”

A portion of the New York Times front page on March 7, 2022 with Lynsey Addario's photo.
A portion of the New York Times front page on March 7, 2022 with Lynsey Addario's photo.

People in Irpin have been using a battered bridge, which had been intentionally blown up by Ukrainian forces to slow the Russian advance, to cross into the relative safety of Kyiv.

According to the Times, only a dozen or so Ukrainian soldiers were in the immediate area of the bridge on Sunday. They were not fighting but instead “helping carry civilians’ luggage and children.”

Irpin Mayor Oleksandr Markushin said that at least eight civilians were killed along the route over the weekend. He said Russian forces were intentionally targeting civilians.

“This is not an army. These are animals,” Markushin said on CNN. “They are killing civilians. They are shelling our city, our residential buildings. They are firing on ambulances. This is just a. Monstrosity. They are animals. They are not people.”

Other photographers in the area captured similar scenes of panicked Ukrainians desperately trying to escape heavy Russian shelling along the evacuation route.

Ukrainians dressed for cold weather, some standing and some on the ground, look for cover on a sidewalk partially covered by bare trees.
Residents look for cover as they try to escape from the town of Irpin, Ukraine, on Sunday after heavy shelling on the only escape route used by locals. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

In other cities, Ukrainian officials said Russian artillery fire and airstrikes had prevented residents from making agreed-to evacuations. Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of sabotaging the effort.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he was aware of the reports of Russians targeting Ukrainian civilians, and that the United States is monitoring Russians for possible war crimes.

“We’ve seen very credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians, which would constitute a war crime,” Blinken said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday. “They’re very credible. And we’re documenting everything.”

An arm and bloody hand are partially covered by a sheet.
The body of a person killed by Russian shelling lies covered in the street in Irpin on Sunday. (AP Photo/Diego Herrera Carcedo)