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ODESSA: Air strikes rocked Ukraine's strategic Black Sea port Odessa early Sunday morning, according to an interior ministry official, after Kyiv had warned that Russia was trying to consolidate its troops in the south.

"Odessa was attacked from the air," Anton Herashchenko, adviser to the interior minister, wrote on his Telegram account.

"Fires were reported in some areas. Some of the missiles were shot down by air defence."

An AFP reporter heard explosions in the southwestern city at around 6:00 am (0300 GMT).

The blasts sent up at least three columns of black smoke with flames visible apparently in an industrial area.

A soldier near the site of one of the strikes said it was likely a rocket or a missile.

The attack comes as Russian forces appeared to be withdrawing from the country's north.

Ukraine faces big battles in eastern and southern regions, says senior official

On Friday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Russia was consolidating and preparing "powerful strikes" in the south, joining a chorus of Western assessments that Moscow's troops were regrouping.

Odessa, a historic city of around one million people, is Ukraine's largest Black Sea port.

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Air strikes hit Ukraine's strategic port Odessa

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