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At least 13 killed after Ukrainian mall is hit by missiles as NATO increases forces in ‘biggest overhaul’ to its troops

At least 13 killed after Ukrainian mall is hit by missiles as NATO increases forces in ‘biggest overhaul’ to its troops

More than a dozen people are dead after a missile struck a “crowded” Ukrainian shopping centre hours after NATO announced a boost to its forces.

The missile hit the mall in the central city of Kremenchuk on a busy Monday afternoon killing at least 13 shoppers and injuring a further 40 people.

Multiple social media video clips showed the shopping centre burning ferociously with thick black smoke billowing into the sky.

Dozens of shocked and dazed shoppers could be seen stumbling or running from the burning building as firefighters, police and soldiers rushed to the scene.

President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed Russia was responsible for the attack on the mall where “over a thousand civilians” were inside.

“It is on fire, and rescue workers are trying to put out the fire, the number of victims is impossible to imagine,” he said through messaging app Telegram.

“It posed no threat to the Russian army. No strategic value. People only wanted to live a normal life, which is what angers the occupiers so much.

“Out of helplessness, Russia continues to hit ordinary people. It is vain to expect it to be reasonable or humane.”

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has called for the world to provide more weaponry and further sanctions on Russia in response to the strikes.

At least 13 people are dead and 40 others injured after a missile struck the shopping centre in central Kremenchuk. Picture: Twitter

At least 13 people are dead and 40 others injured after a missile struck the shopping centre in central Kremenchuk. Picture: Twitter

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said the shopping mall was "crowded" with shoppers on Monday afternoon. Picture: Twitter

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said the shopping mall was “crowded” with shoppers on Monday afternoon. Picture: Twitter

The Group of Seven (G7) have labelled the “abominable” attack a “war crime”.

The United Nations said it was “totally deplorable”.

Firefighters have managed to put the blaze out and have begun the search for survivors buried under rubble.

Rescue workers and soldiers could be seen removing large pieces of debris. The death toll is expected to rise in the coming hours and days.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced a boost of its readiness troops amid the ongoing Ukrainian war that has entered its fifth month. Picture: Omar Havana/Getty Images

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced a boost of its readiness troops amid the ongoing Ukrainian war that has entered its fifth month. Picture: Omar Havana/Getty Images

It comes after NATO announced it would increase its high readiness troops from 40,000 to 300,000 and place them on high alert amid President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing war.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared allies would boost its forces in the Baltic states and five frontline nations to “brigade levels” between 3,000 and 5,000 troops.

Munition stocks will also be shifted further east in response but that won’t be completed until 2023.

“This constitutes the biggest overhaul of our collective defence and deterrence since the Cold War,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

He also said a “strengthened and comprehensive” package of “secure communications, anti-drone systems and fuel” would be delivered to the war-torn nation.

It is expected to be agreed to by the word leaders who are meeting in Madrid for the three-day NATO summit this week.

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