What are Cluster Bombs? Russia Accused of Using Deadly Weapon in Attack on Kharkiv [Watch]

As the Ukraine invasion is nearing almost a week since it started, Russia is being accused of using weapons of mass destruction in the war. After the deadly 'Vaccum Bombs,' the Russian forces appeared to have used 'Cluster Bombs' to shell civilian areas in Ukraine's east.

The city of Kharkiv witnessed some of the most intense fights and airstrikes since the invasion started. Rockets were fired in Kharkiv from Russian positions on Monday. A video showed a shopping center surrounded by explosions in the Serpnia area. Quoting a military source, MailOnline reported that the videos showed 'Cluster ammunition' was used in the bombing.

"The BM-21 Grad is a multiple launch rocket system used for 'area denial', dropping cluster bombs on a concentrated area," the expert said, adding that using cluster ammunition against civilians is a war crime intended to spread terror and alarm.

Cluster ammunition launched near shopping center in Kharkiv
Cluster ammunition launched near shopping center in Kharkiv Screen grab - via DailyMail

What are 'Cluster Bombs'?

Cluster ammunition is an explosive weapon, which, once launched, releases or ejects smaller submunitions. It can be airdropped or ground-launched. Cluster bomb, more commonly, ejects bomblets on being launched, that are designed to kill personnel and destroy vehicles.

Cluster Bomb working
Cluster Bomb working Screen grab - Twitter

Since cluster bombs release multiple smaller bomblets over a wide area where they're dropped, they pose grave risks to civilians during the attack as well as in the aftermath of it. The unexploded bomblets can kill or injure people long after the fight has ended and are hard as well as costly to find and remove.

'A Preschool sheltering Civilians was Hit by Cluster Bombs'

Videos and images showed bodies of dead and badly wounded civilians lying on the street in Kharkiv. Some other images showed exploded BM-21 rocket cartridges in the streets having fallen through apartment roofs.

Human Rights group Amnesty International claimed that a preschool was hit by cluster bombs in the Northeastern Ukrainian region of Okhtyrka on Friday, which was being used to shelter civilians. At least 3 people, including a child, were reportedly killed in the bombing.

Amnesty noted that the 'attack appeared to have been carried out by Russian forces, which were operating nearby, and which have a record of using cluster munitions in populated areas.'