Ukraine has detained eight people over the theft of a mural painted by the elusive British street artist Banksy from a wall in the Kyiv suburbs, the authorities said.
The stencil image of a person in a nightgown and gas mask holding a fire extinguisher next to the charred remains of a window in the town of Hostomel went missing on Friday, they said.
“A group of people tried to steal a Banksy mural. They cut out the work from the wall of a house destroyed by the Russians,” the Kyiv governor, Oleksiy Kuleba, said in a post on Telegram.
He attached the image of a gaping hole in the wall where the image once stood.
“Several people were detained on the spot,” he said. “The image is in good condition and in the hands of the authorities.”
Other works in the area also thought to be Banksy’s work are under police protection, he said.
The Kyiv police chief, Andriy Nebytov, said eight people had been identified as possibly involved, and a preliminary inquiry had been opened into the matter.
“All were aged between 27 and 60 years old. They are residents of Kyiv and Cherkasy,” about 200km (120 miles) south-east of the capital, he said.
Last month, Banksy posted an image of the stencil of a gymnast performing a handstand on the wall of a wrecked building in Borodianka, another suburb of the capital.
He then posted a video of several more of his artworks, including the person in a gas mask holding the fire extinguisher.
Others included the portraits of a bearded man scrubbing up in a bathtub, and a young boy in a karate outfit slamming his adult opponent to the ground.
Together with towns such as Bucha and Irpin, Borodianka and Hostomel were severely hit by Russian bombardment after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.