The Russian government has offered a defence for the attack on a children’s hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, which killed three people including a child and injured 17 others.

Russian foreign minister, Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov, alleged that Mariupol hospital was a base for Ukraine nationalists, AFP reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

At least three people were killed, including a young girl, in an attack Wednesday on the children's hospital in Mariupol in southern Ukraine, local officials said on Thursday.

"Three people were killed, including a female child, in yesterday's attack on a children's and maternity hospital in Ukraine's besieged Mariupol, according to updated figures this morning," the city council said on its Telegram channel.

Officials had previously given a toll of 17 injured, including doctors, in the attack, A News reports.

"The Russian forces are destroying Mariupol's civilian population deliberately and without mercy," the city council said.

It says 1,200 inhabitants have been killed in nine days of the Russian siege.

The attack on the children's hospital, described by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a "war crime", has triggered international indignation.

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