Most of the 146 bodies unearthed so far in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Izium were civilians, and some of the bodies showed signs of torture, the head of the regional military administration, Oleh Synyehubov, said on Monday.
“Some of the dead have signs of violent death. There are corpses with bound hands and traces of torture,” wrote Mr. Synyehubov in one post on Telegram. Others had stab wounds or injuries from mine explosions and shrapnel, and two of the bodies belonged to children, he added.
Izium’s mayor, Valery Marchenko, has said he expected it will take another two weeks to exhume all the bodies from several mass graves in Izium, which were discovered after Russian forces retreated in the face of a Ukrainian counteroffensive. The largest burial site contained some 440 individual graves, a discovery that cast a renewed spotlight on potential war crimes committed during Russia’s six-month occupation of the city.
Russia’s violence against civilian targets, including theaters, hospitals and apartment buildings, has drawn months of international condemnation. Some attacks have been indiscriminate due to older, imprecise weapons, while others have been targeted atrocities, like the killings in Bucha. Last month, the United Nations reported that it had confirmed the deaths of 5,587 Ukrainian civilians, although the true number is believed to be in the tens of thousands.
Russia has often denied responsibility or blamed Ukraine for civilian deaths. On Monday, Kirill Stremousov, the Russian-appointed proxy leader in Kherson, accused Ukraine killed 13 civilians in targeted shelling in eastern Donetsk region. The claim could not be independently verified.
Ukrainian officials denied the claim, saying Moscow was terrorizing civilians in occupied territory to divert attention from the investigations in Izium ahead of this week’s meeting of the UN General Assembly.
“The occupiers have already repeatedly used such a pattern to divert attention from their own crimes,” Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council said in a Telegram posts.