Local authorities in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol accused Russian forces on Friday of opening fire on a car on its way to evacuate civilians from a vast steel works, killing a fighter and violating a ceasefire agreement.

Russia did not immediately comment on the Mariupol city council’s statement. Moscow has denied targeting civilians and had offered a ceasefire to allow the evacuation of civilians trapped in the Azovstal steel plant with Ukrainian fighters.

“During the ceasefire on the territory of the Azovstal plant a car was hit by Russians using an anti-tank guided weapon. This car was moving towards civilians in order to evacuate them from the plant,” Mariupol city council said in an online post.

“As a result of the shelling, 1 fighter was killed and 6 were wounded. The enemy continues to violate all agreements and fails to adhere to security guarantees for the evacuation of civilians.” Reuters could not verify the city council’s statement.

Russian forces have occupied Mariupol, leaving the city’s last defenders — and scores of civilians — holed up in the Azovstal plant.

The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have helped evacuate some of the civilians and Ukraine said a new attempt was under way to evacuate the civilians on Friday.

No return

In Moscow, an official from the Russian parliament said on Friday that Russia would remain in southern Ukraine “forever”.

“Russia is here forever. There should be no doubt about this. There will be no return to the past,” Andrey Turchak said during a visit to the Moscow-controlled city of Kherson.

“We will live together, develop this rich region, rich in historical heritage, rich in the people who live here,” Turchak added.

He announced the opening of a humanitarian aid centre in Kherson for the delivery of food, medicine and other essentials.

It was the first time a senior Russian official indicated Moscow’s intentions to remain present on Ukrainian territory.

Kherson was the first major city to fall to Russian forces after the start of their military operation in Ukraine.

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