Kyiv evacuates two hospitals after Belarus KGB chief sparks airstrike fears

By Thomson Reuters Apr 26, 2024 | 11:28 AM

KYIV (Reuters) – The Ukrainian capital Kyiv evacuated two civilian hospitals on Friday after the head of the Belarusian KGB security service said they were housing soldiers, sparking fears of an airstrike.

The Kyiv city administration said a video widely circulated online, which it did not identify, contained a threat to attack the two facilities, including a children’s hospital, on the false grounds that soldiers were located there.

“This is an absolute lie and a provocation by the enemy, which it is trying to use to attack the social infrastructure of the capital,” the administration wrote on Telegram.

Ivan Tertel, the head of the Belarusian KGB, provided the addresses of the two Kyiv hospitals where he said fighters were “hiding behind the backs of children”.

“Without a doubt, all of them will suffer well-deserved punishment, even though they have chosen Kyiv hospitals as their lair,” he said in a speech broadcast by the state news agency Belta.

Belarusian troops are not fighting in the war in Ukraine, but Minsk is a close ally of Moscow and Russian forces used Belarusian territory as a staging ground for their full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Kyiv’s city authorities said they were moving patients and staff from both hospitals to other medical facilities.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko said he visited the two hospitals on Friday.

“We’re doing everything to protect children, their parents, adult patients and staff from a possible attack on these medical facilities, which was announced by the aggressor,” Klitschko said.

Russia has regularly pounded Ukraine with long-range airstrikes since February 2022. Moscow denies targeting civilians, but many have been killed by airstrikes.

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk; editing by Tom Balmforth and Timothy Heritage)