Most of the 146 bodies exhumed so far in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Izium were civilians, and some of the bodies showed signs of torture, the leader of the regional military administration, Oleh Synyehubov, said Monday.
“Some of the dead have signs of violent death. There are bodies with tied hands and traces of torture,” Mr. Synyehubov wrote in a 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 that he expected it will take another two weeks to exhume all of the bodies from several mass grave sites in Izium that were discovered after Russian forces retreated in the face of a Ukrainian counteroffensive. The largest of burial site contained about 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 battering of civilian targets including theaters, hospitals and apartment buildings has prompted months of international condemnation. Some attacks have been indiscriminate because of older, imprecise weaponry, 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, though the true number is thought 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 of killing 13 civilians in targeted shelling in the eastern Donetsk region. The claim could not be independently verified.
Ukrainian officials denied the allegation, saying Moscow was terrorizing civilians in occupied territory to direct attention away from the investigations in Izium before this week’s meeting of the United Nations 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 post.