164 bodies were found in Bucha, according to the Ukrainian prosecutor general

Ukrainian servicemen stand next to fragments of a missile outside the train station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Friday, April 8. (Andriy Andriyenko/AP)

The first US assessment is that the missile that hit the Kramatorsk train station was a short-range ballistic missile fired from a Russian position inside Ukraine, a senior US defense official said on Friday.

The United States “fully expects” the attack on Kramatorsk train station in Ukraine to be a Russian strike with an SS-21 short-range ballistic missile, according to another senior US defense official.

The official said that although the United States does not have “perfect visibility into the Russian targeting process”, the station is a major rail hub located “just at the edge of the line of contact between Russian forces and Ukrainians in the Donbass region”.

Earlier on Friday, Ukraine accused Russian forces of using cluster munitions indiscriminately in Friday’s attack that left at least 50 people dead.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk region’s military administration, said a Russian Tochka-U missile filled with small bombs hit civilians evacuating the area.

Russian forces have been accused of regularly using cluster munitions against civilian targets in Ukraine. Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said it had received credible allegations that Russian armed forces used cluster munitions in populated areas at least 24 times.

Such attacks “could amount to war crimes,” UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also confirmed Russia’s use of cluster munitions, including at least three cases in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv on 7, March 11 and 13, 2022.

Cluster munitions pose a particular threat to civilians by randomly scattering submunitions or bombs over a wide area. Bomblets that fail to explode on impact often become de facto landmines, spreading the damage post-conflict.

In 2008, more than 100 United Nations countries signed on to ban cluster munitions, according to the UN website. Ukraine and Russia have not signed the agreement.

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