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Injured Canadian says there was no warning ahead of missile attack on Ukrainian base

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FREDERICTON -

A New Brunswick man who was injured when a military base near Ukraine's western border was struck by Russian missiles on Sunday says the deadly attack came with no warning.

Hunter Francis of the Eel Ground First Nation in northeast New Brunswick said Tuesday there were no air raid sirens before the missiles hit.

"We got hit hard," Francis said in an exchange of messages with The Canadian Press Tuesday. "They hit the supply depot first, then the barracks second. They hit us for almost 30 minutes of continuous bombing."

The former Canadian Forces member, who arrived in Ukraine last week to volunteer in the defence against Russia, suffered injuries described as superficial.

"I had glass and metal in my right hand and my nose. I don't remember when that happened," he wrote. The experience was enough to convince him it was time to leave the war zone. "I'm coming home," he wrote on his Facebook page Sunday.

Chris Ecklund of Fight for Ukraine would not name Francis or any other Canadian who has joined the fight but said he has been in contact with the one Canadian injured Sunday, and he was doing well. The organization has been providing logistical information for Canadians who want to join the fight in Ukraine.

"He's in much better spirits today. He's had a couple good nights' sleep, a hot shower and some food in his stomach, and he's feeling much better mentally and physically," Ecklund said in an interview Tuesday.

"He's just waiting for the Canadian Embassy to get his travel documents so he can return to Canada." In a Facebook post, Francis said his wallet and passport were destroyed when his building was hit.

Ecklund said the injured Canadian is now in an unidentified country bordering Ukraine.

He was about 20 kilometres from the Ukraine-Poland border, near the Ukrainian city of Lviv, when Russian missiles hit the military training base Sunday.

Lviv Gov. Maksym Kozytskyi said more than 30 Russian cruise missiles targeted the sprawling facility. Most of the missiles "were shot down because the air defence system worked," but the ones that got through killed at least 35 people and wounded 134, he said.

Francis has posted pictures and videos to his Facebook page that show fires and damage from the blasts, including a deep crater.

In one post, Francis said: "I have experienced full state on state warfare and can say for certain it is not glorious. I urge all foreign fighters to NOT go to Ukraine."

Ecklund said he estimates the number of Canadians who have responded so far at between 500 and 1,000.

"Through our website we're averaging one to two dozen more people that are signing up and filling out forms every day. We had 65 one day alone. It's pretty steady with the number of people who want to go over and help out," he said.

"Some people want to go fight. Other people want to be in the rear to supply. Other people want to be combat medics. Other people want to be on the other side of the border helping out. It's a little bit of everything," he added.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2022.

With files from Hina Alam and The Associated Press.

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