More than 900 civilian bodies found in Kyiv region

The bodies of more than 900 civilians have been discovered in the region surrounding the Ukrainian capital following Russia’s withdrawal, most of them fatally shot, police said Friday, an indication that many people were “simply executed.”

The jarring number emerged shortly after Russia’s Defence Ministry promised to step up missile attacks on Kyiv in response to Ukraine’s alleged assaults on Russian territory.

That ominous warning followed the stunning loss of Moscow’s flagship in the Black Sea, which a senior US defence official said Friday was indeed hit by at least one Ukrainian missile.

A man looks at his burned car after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) (AP)
Oksana waits for an ambulance after being injured in a Russian attack at a public park in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Oksana waits for an ambulance after being injured in a Russian attack at a public park in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) (AP)

Amid its threats, Moscow continues preparations for a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine.

Fighting also continues in the pummeled southern port city of Mariupol, where locals reported seeing Russian troops digging up bodies.

In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, shelling of a residential area killed seven people, including a 7-month-old child, and wounded 34, according to regional governor Oleh Sinehubov.

Around Kyiv, Andriy Nebytov, the head of the capital’s regional police force, said bodies were abandoned in the streets or given temporary burials. He cited police data indicating 95 per cent died from gunshot wounds.

“Consequently, we understand that under the (Russian) occupation, people were simply executed in the streets,” Nebytov said.

More bodies are being found every day, under rubble and in mass graves, he added. The largest number of victims were found in Bucha, where there were more than 350, he said.

The exhuming of Ukrainian victims from mass graves in Bucha

According to Nebytov, utilities workers in Bucha gathered and buried bodies in the Kyiv suburb while it remained under Russian control.

Russian troops, he added, were “tracking down” people who expressed strong pro-Ukrainian views.

More violence could be in store for Kyiv after Russian authorities accused Ukraine of wounding seven people and damaging about 100 residential buildings with airstrikes in Bryansk, a region bordering Ukraine. Authorities in another border region of Russia also reported Ukrainian shelling Thursday.

“The number and the scale of missile attacks on objects in Kyiv will be ramped up in response to the Kyiv nationalist regime committing any terrorist attacks or diversions on the Russian territory,” Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

Russia used missiles to destroy a facility for the repair and production of missile systems in Kyiv, Konashenkov said.

Ukrainian officials have not confirmed striking targets in Russia, and the reports could not be independently verified.

A cat rests inside the tomb where Lyudmyla Kononuchenko, 51, who was buried by family and friends after being hit by a rocket on March 23 during the war with Russia, in Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday , April 15, 2022. The corpse of Lyudmyla was exhumed in the yard of her house  and taken to the morgue for analysis. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
A cat rests inside the tomb where Lyudmyla Kononuchenko, 51, who was buried by family and friends after being hit by a rocket on March 23 during the war with Russia, in Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday , April 15, 2022. The corpse of Lyudmyla was exhumed in the yard of her house and taken to the morgue for analysis. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) (AP)

However, Ukrainian officials said their forces did strike a key Russian warship with missiles. A senior US defence official backed up the claim, saying the US now believes the Moskva was hit by at least one, and probably two, Neptune missiles.

Earlier, the Pentagon said it could not confirm the cause of the large fire aboard the guided-missile cruiser. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence assessment.

The Neptune is an anti-ship missile recently developed by Ukraine based on an earlier Soviet design.

The Moskva, named for the Russian capital, then sank while being towed to port Thursday after suffering heavy damage.

Though Moscow did not acknowledge any attack, saying only that a fire had caused ammunition on board to detonate, the loss of the ship represents an important victory for Ukraine and a symbolic defeat for Russia.

The Moskva had the capacity to carry 16 long-range cruise missiles. The last time such a large warship sank in combat was 1982, when a British submarine torpedoed an Argentine navy cruiser called the ARA General Belgrano during the Falklands War, killing over 300 sailors.

The sinking reduces Russia’s firepower in the Black Sea, although military analysts disagreed on the event’s significance to the course of the war.

Either way, the loss was viewed as emblematic of Moscow’s fortunes in a seven-week invasion widely seen as a historic blunder following the retreat from the Kyiv region and much of northern Ukraine.

Firefighters extinguish a fire at a factory after a Russian attack in the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Firefighters extinguish a fire at a factory after a Russian attack in the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) (AP)
Vadim Krikun is treated in the hallway of his apartment building after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Vadim Krikun is treated in the hallway of his apartment building after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) (AP)

“A ‘flagship’ russian warship is a worthy diving site. We have one more diving spot in the Black Sea now. Will definitely visit the wreck after our victory in the war,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov tweeted Friday in a boast.

In his nightly address Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Ukrainians they should be proud of having survived 50 days under Russian attack when the invaders “gave us a maximum of five.”

Russia’s warning of renewed airstrikes did not stop Kyiv residents from taking advantage of a sunny and slightly warmer spring Friday as the weekend approached.

More people than usual were out on the streets, walking dogs, riding electric scooters and strolling hand in hand.

In one central park, a small group of people including a woman draped in a Ukrainian flag danced to the music of a portable speaker.

A renewed bombardment could mean a return to the steady wail of air raid sirens heard during the early days of the invasion and to fearful nights sheltering in subway stations.

LUKASHIVKA, UKRAINE – APRIL 10: A view of a rocket case on the field where the cows pasture on April 10, 2022 in Lukashivka village, Ukraine. The Russian retreat from Ukrainian towns and cities has revealed scores of civilian deaths and the full extent of devastation from Russia’s attempt to dominate the country. (Photo by Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images) (Getty)

Tentative signs of pre-war life have resurfaced in the capital after Russian troops failed to capture the city and retreated to concentrate on eastern Ukraine, leaving behind evidence of possible war crimes.

News about the Moskva overshadowed Russian claims of advances in the southern port city of Mariupol, which Moscow’s forces have blockaded since the early days of the invasion.

Dwindling numbers of Ukrainian defenders have held out against a siege that has come at a horrific cost to trapped and starving civilians.

Mariupol’s mayor said this week that more than 10,000 civilians had died and the death toll could surpass 20,000.

Other Ukrainian officials have said they expect to find evidence in Mariupol of atrocities against civilians like the ones discovered in Bucha and other towns outside Kyiv.

Armed servicemen of Donetsk People's Republic militia look at a photographer as they carry captured weapons in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, April 15, 2022. Mariupol, a strategic port on the Sea of Azov, has been besieged by Russian troops and forces from self-proclaimed separatist areas in eastern Ukraine for more than six weeks. (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov)
Armed servicemen of Donetsk People’s Republic militia look at a photographer as they carry captured weapons in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, April 15, 2022. Mariupol, a strategic port on the Sea of Azov, has been besieged by Russian troops and forces from self-proclaimed separatist areas in eastern Ukraine for more than six weeks. (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov) (AP)

The Mariupol City Council said Friday that locals reported seeing Russian troops digging up bodies that were buried in residential courtyards and not allowing new burials “of people killed by them.”

“Why the exhumation is being carried out and where the bodies will be taken is unknown,” the council said on the Telegram messaging app.

Fighting continues in industrial areas and the port, and Russia has for the first time used the Tu-22М3 long-range bomber to attack the city, said Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence.

Mariupol’s capture would allow Russian forces in the south, which came up through the annexed Crimean Peninsula, to fully link up with troops in the Donbas region, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland and the target of the looming offensive.

Moscow-backed separatists have fought Ukrainian forces in the Donbas since 2014, the same year Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine. Russia has recognised the independence of two rebel-held areas of the region.

Although it’s not certain when Russia will launch the full-scale campaign, a regional Ukrainian official said Friday that seven people died and 27 were wounded after Russian forces opened fire on buses carrying civilians in the village of Borovaya, near the northeastern city of Kharkiv.

The claim could not be independently verified.

Ukrainian Nicolai, 41, says goodbye to his daughter Elina, 4, next to his wife Lolita, right, before boarding in a train bound for Poland fleeing from the war at the train station in Lviv, western Ukraine on Friday, April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Ukrainian Nicolai, 41, says goodbye to his daughter Elina, 4, next to his wife Lolita, right, before boarding in a train bound for Poland fleeing from the war at the train station in Lviv, western Ukraine on Friday, April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) (AP)
Relatives mourn the dead of Oleksandr Mozheiko, 31, territorial defense soldier who was killed by Russian army on March 5, during his funeral in Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday , April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Relatives mourn the dead of Oleksandr Mozheiko, 31, territorial defense soldier who was killed by Russian army on March 5, during his funeral in Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday , April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) (AP)

Dmytro Chubenko, a spokesman for the regional prosecutor’s office, told Ukraine’s Suspilne news website that Ukrainian authorities had opened criminal proceedings in connection with a suspected “violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder.”

A large explosion also rocked the eastern city of Kramatorsk, where a missile strike on a train station a week earlier killed more than 50 people as thousands heeding warnings to evacuate the Donbas area waited to leave.

Journalists in Kramatorsk heard the sound of a rocket or missile and then the blast, followed by sirens wailing Friday.

Ukrainian Nicolai, 41, cries as he says goodbye to his daughter Elina, 4, and his wife Lolita, on a train bound for Poland fleeing from the war at the train station in Lviv, western Ukraine, Friday, April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Ukrainian Nicolai, 41, cries as he says goodbye to his daughter Elina, 4, and his wife Lolita, on a train bound for Poland fleeing from the war at the train station in Lviv, western Ukraine, Friday, April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) (AP)

It was not immediately clear what was hit or whether there were casualties. A day earlier, a factory in the same city was hit by an airstrike.

The Russian Defence Ministry said Russian strikes in the Kharkiv region “liquidated a squad of mercenaries from a Polish private military company” of up to 30 people and “liberated” an iron and steel factory in Mariupol. The claims could not be independently verified.

Reference-www.9news.com.au

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