900 civilian bodies found in capital region, Kyiv police say

More than 900 bodies of civilians have been discovered in the region surrounding the Ukrainian capital following the withdrawal of Russian forces – most of them shot dead, police said on Friday, indicating that people have been “merely executed”.

Andriy Nebytov, chief of Kyiv regional police, said the bodies had been left on the streets or temporarily buried. He cited police data indicating that 95% of people died from gunshot wounds.

More and more bodies are being found every day, under the rubble and in mass graves, he said.

“Most of the victims were found in Bucha, where there are more than 350 corpses,” he said.

According to Nebytov, Bucha utility workers collected and buried bodies on the outskirts of Kyiv while it remained under Russian control. Russian troops, he added, are “hunting down” people who express strong pro-Ukrainian views.

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The Russian Defense Ministry promised on Friday to increase the “scale of missile attacks” on kyiv in response to “hijackings from Ukraine on Russian territory”.

The statement comes a day after Russian authorities accused Ukrainian forces of launching airstrikes on residential buildings in one of the country’s regions bordering Ukraine, in which seven people were injured. .

According to Russian officials, around 100 residential buildings were damaged in Thursday’s attack on the village of Klimovo in Russia’s Bryansk region.

The Defense Ministry said Russian forces in Ukraine’s Chernihiv region stopped a Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopter believed to have been involved in the attack.

Authorities in another border region, Belgorod, also reported Ukrainian shelling on Thursday.

Bombings in Kharkiv

The governor of the Kharkiv region says seven people, including a seven-month-old child, were killed in the shelling of a residential area of ​​the city.

Oleh Sinehubov said in a Telegram message on Friday that 34 other people were injured.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, was badly hit by shelling and rocket attacks during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The city’s position about 40 kilometers south of Russia and 160 kilometers north of the eastern breakaway regions of Ukraine gives it considerable strategic importance.

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Meanwhile, seven people have died and 27 have been injured after Russian forces opened fire on buses carrying civilians in the Ukrainian village of Borovaya, near Kharkiv, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said on Friday. regional to the Ukrainian news site Suspilne.

Ukrainian law enforcement is working to establish the circumstances of the attack, Dmytro Chubenko said. He added that investigators are also establishing the routes and destination of vehicles transporting civilians through Russian-held territory around Borovaya.

Chubenko said Ukrainian authorities had opened criminal charges for an “alleged violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder”. The claims could not be independently verified.

Mariupol residents ‘starved to death’

The head of the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) said people were “starving” in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol and he predicted the country’s humanitarian crisis was likely to worsen as Russia stepped up its onslaught in the coming weeks.

WFP Executive Director David Beasley also warned in an interview with The Associated Press in Kyiv on Thursday that Russia’s invasion of grain-exporting Ukraine risks destabilizing countries far from its shores and could trigger waves of migrants seeking a better life elsewhere.

The war that began on February 24 “has devastated the people of Ukraine”, Beasley said, lamenting the lack of access faced by WFP and other aid organizations in trying to reach those in need during the conflict. .

On Friday, damaged vehicles and buildings were seen in the beleaguered port city of Mariupol. (Alexander Ermoshenko/Reuters)

The fluid nature of the conflict, which has seen fighting move from areas around the capital to eastern Ukraine, has made it particularly difficult to reach starving Ukrainians.

The WFP is now trying to deliver food to areas that could be caught in the fighting, but Beasley acknowledged there are “a lot of complexities” as the situation rapidly evolves.

On Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry said its forces had taken full control of the Illich steel plant in the besieged town, which has been surrounded by Russian troops for weeks. Mariupol saw some of the heaviest fighting of the war – at a horrific cost to civilians.

Fewer and fewer Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol are resisting a siege that has trapped more than 100,000 civilians in desperate need of food, water and heat.

The mayor of Mariupol said this week that more than 10,000 civilians had died and the death toll could exceed 20,000.

The capture of Mariupol is essential for Russia because it would allow its forces in the south, which were crossing the annexed Crimean peninsula, to fully link up with troops in the Donbass region, the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine and the target of the imminent offensive.