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Forensic investigators began exhuming a mass grave in the Ukrainian town of Bucha on Friday, wrapping in black plastic and laying out the bodies of civilians who officials say were killed during a Russian invasion.
Ruslan Kravchenko from the prosecutor’s office in Bucha said they had exhumed 20 bodies, 18 of whom had firearms and shrapnel wounds. He said two women had been identified, one of whom had worked at a supermarket in the town centre.
“There are witnesses who can confirm that these people were killed by the Russian forces. Without any reason, they were just walking down the street or being evacuated,” he told Reuters.
“Some of them were just speaking Ukrainian.”
He said the forensic investigators would work to build up a picture of what happened to those buried in the mass grave, where the remains of corpses poked through the earth.
The specialists, clad in white suits, covered the graves with plastic sheeting as rain fell.
Since Russian troops pulled back from Bucha last week, Ukrainian officials say hundreds of civilians have been found dead. Bucha’s deputy mayor said more than 360 civilians were killed and around 260-280 were buried in the mass grave by other residents.
Reuters could not independently verify those figures. The deaths of civilians in Bucha have been widely condemned by the West as war crimes.
The Kremlin said on Tuesday the allegations that Russian forces had executed civilians in Bucha were a “monstrous forgery” aimed at denigrating the Russian army. It casts the evidence of civilian killings in Bucha as a cynical ploy by Ukraine and its Western backers, who Moscow says are gripped by discriminatory anti-Russian paranoia.
Russia has denied deliberately targeting civilians following its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Moscow calls its action a “special military operation” aimed at “denazifying” Ukraine. Ukraine and the West say the invasion was illegal and unjustified.
Reporting by Simon Gardner and Mari Saito, writing by Elizabeth Piper, Editing by Angus MacSwan