(Reuters) – The Russia-installed governor of Ukraine’s southern region of Kherson accused Ukrainian forces on Friday of killing 19 people and wounding five in shelling of the small town of Sadove.

Vladimir Saldo later said Ukrainian forces had deliberately struck the area a second time, using a U.S.-supplied HIMARS missile to inflict the largest possible number of casualties.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

Saldo, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said a shop packed with customers and staff was hit in the town south of the regional centre of Kherson, which is held by Ukrainian troops.

Russsia’s Tass news agency later quoted Saldo as telling journalists: “After the first strike, residents of nearby houses ran out to help the injured and within a short period of time a HIMARS missile struck. Two children are among the dead.”

He said Ukrainian forces had “deliberately made a repeat strike to create greater numbers of casualties”.

Russian troops quickly advanced into Kherson region during the February 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but Ukrainian forces recaptured swathes of the region later that year, including the regional centre of Kherson. Other areas remain in the hands of Russian forces.

Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russia of launching repeat strikes in one area — or “double tap” — to increase casualties, particularly among rescue squads.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Timothy Heritage and Diane Craft)