The Daily Telegraph

‘Kamikaze’ drones unleash fresh wave of terror

At least four people killed as overhead attacks cause panic on the streets of Kyiv during morning rush hour

- By James Kilner

POLICE officers and civilians in Kyiv shot at swooping Iranian-made drones with Kalashniko­v rifles yesterday as a wave of attacks left at least four people dead.

Commuters fled through the streets of the Ukrainian capital looking for cover as the swarm of drones struck during the morning rush hour.

This was the second major attack by Russia on the Ukrainian capital in a week and triggered a warning from city officials that more were expected.

Authoritie­s urged panicked civilians not to shoot at drones amid fears stray gunshots would cause more damage.

“The probabilit­y of shooting one down is extremely small and the danger of an inexperien­ced person shooting outweighs this,” said Denis Monastyrsk­y, the Ukrainian interior minister.

The warning came after pamphlets were dispersed by civilian groups encouragin­g people to shoot at the drones with their rifles. One pamphlet said that tracer rounds would be useful in targeting the Shahed-136 Iranian drones but that “the advantages of highcalibr­e machine guns are not obvious”.

A full mobilisati­on of men in Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb 24 means that most households now have some military training and access to firearms.

Video showed policemen firing Kalashniko­v rifles at the drones flying above Kyiv before they dived and crashed into their targets. Fires broke out in at least one residentia­l block of flats and an electric power station. Vitaly

Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said that four people had been killed, including one woman who was six months pregnant.

The woman, named locally as Vika, was a sommelier at a wine shop whose body was found under the rubble along with her husband and cat.

“Twenty-eight drones flew in the direction of Kyiv. Thanks to our Armed Forces and air defence systems, most of the flying terrorists were shot down,” Mr Klitschko said. “A total of five explosions were heard in Kyiv.”

The attacks appeared to come in two waves. The first before dawn yesterday and the second a few hours later during the busy Monday morning rush hour.

Videos showed people looking up at the drones before women grab their children and sprint for the nearest basement, firemen run for cover and men with briefcases dash to hiding places.

In another video, police crouch behind cars and fire at a drone which then crashes and explodes behind them. Three officers told Anton Gerashchen­ko, an adviser to the Ukrainian interior ministry, how they had shot an Iranian drone down.

“We opened fire on it. We tried to take cover and after that we saw that it abruptly changed its trajectory and literally exploded about 50m from us,” said one of the officers.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, bought hundreds of drones from Iran on a trip to Tehran in July. They have been dubbed “kamikaze” drones and are designed to crash into and destroy their targets.

Last week, Mr Putin said that he had fired 80 cruise missiles at Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine as revenge for an attack on a bridge that links Crimea with mainland Russia.

The Iranian drones had played a supporting role in that attack, but yester

day, only drones were deployed in an assault that appears to have been designed to terrorise people. Witnesses have previously described the fear of hearing the whining, whirring Iranian Shahed-136 drones approachin­g.

However, RAF Air Marshal Edward Stringer, a senior fellow at the Policy Exchange think tank, said that the attacks were militarily insignific­ant.

“What you are seeing now are the Iranian versions of the V1,” he said in a reference to Nazi rockets fired at cities in Europe during the Second World War which were designed to target civilians. “I sense the real target here is morale.”

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 ?? ?? Ukrainian police fire at the threat overhead, left; a Shahed-136 drone, centre; an explosion caused by one of the crashing drones that rocked the centre of Kyiv
Ukrainian police fire at the threat overhead, left; a Shahed-136 drone, centre; an explosion caused by one of the crashing drones that rocked the centre of Kyiv

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