A U.S. citizen was killed in Ukraine following reports of a “heavy artillery attack” from Russian forces, the State Department confirmed on Thursday.
“We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in Ukraine on March 17,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement to Yahoo News. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss. Out of respect to the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment.”
According to the New York Times, that U.S. citizen was James Whitney Hill, an American who traveled to Ukraine in December with his Ukrainian partner so she could be treated at a local hospital for multiple sclerosis.
Hill reportedly wrote about their plight on Facebook in recent weeks. “Each day people are killed trying to escape. But bombs falling here at night. Risk either way,” he reportedly posted. “I only have wifi a few hours a day. We have enough food for a few days.”
A woman who identified herself as Hill’s sister wrote online that Hill was “waiting in a bread line with several other people when they were gunned down” by Russian forces.
Police in the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv wrote on Facebook earlier Thursday that multiple people, including an American, were injured or killed by shelling carried out by Russian troops.
“Today, the occupiers once again carried out heavy artillery attacks on unarmed civilians. There are dead and wounded people,” the police post, translated to English, read. “Among the dead – a US citizen.”
The attack was just one small part of the violence unfolding in the city, which is roughly 90 miles north of capital Kyiv. “We are suffering heavy losses — 53 citizens were killed yesterday,” said the regional governor, Viacheslav Chaus.
Of the dozens reportedly dead, the bodies of five people — including three children — were found in the ruins of a destroyed residential building, which authorities searched following Russian shelling.
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv said elsewhere in the city, Russian troops “shot and killed 10 people standing in line for bread” on Wednesday.
This is the second U.S. citizen confirmed to be killed in Russia’s war on Ukraine, which is entering its fourth week.
Brent Renaud, a journalist working on a video project about refugees for Time magazine, was killed last weekend when a car he was traveling in with fellow journalist Juan Arredondo came under fire from Russian forces.
Kyiv’s police chief, Andriy Nebytov, said after the journalist’s death that Renaud “paid [with] his life for trying to highlight the aggressor’s ingenuity, cruelty and ruthlessness.”
According to the United Nations, at least 691 people have been killed in Ukraine since the assault began last month. The U.N.’s human rights office, however, said the civilian death toll is believed to be “considerably higher.”
Cover thumbnail photo via Getty Images
What happened this week in Ukraine? Check out this explainer from Yahoo Immersive to find out.