Ukraine governor says mass grave found in liberated eastern town

Donetsk regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko says the exact number of bodies in the mass grave in Lyman is not yet known.

Forensic technicians in white and officers work, one standing in a hole, at what appears to be a mass grave declared by regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko as found in the town of Lyman
In this undated photo supplied to Reuters on October 7, 2022, forensic technicians work at what appears to be the mass grave declared by regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko and found in the town of Lyman, recently retaken by the Ukrainian army [Donetsk Region Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko/handout via Reuters]

Ukrainian authorities have found a mass grave in the recently liberated eastern town of Lyman and it is unclear how many bodies it holds, the regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko has said.

Kyrylenko, the governor of eastern Donetsk province, wrote on Telegram on Friday that officials in Lyman had found “a mass grave where, according to local information, there could be both soldiers and civilians. The exact number is yet to be ascertained”.

In a separate report, the Ukrinform news agency cited a senior police official as saying the grave contained 180 bodies. The Kyiv Post also tweeted that a mass grave was found in Lyman “where 180 bodies are buried”, including very young children.

Ukrainian troops retook Lyman, in the Donetsk region, from Russian control last weekend.

Ukrainian authorities have regularly accused Russian troops of committing atrocities in occupied territories, a charge Moscow denies.

Last month, the bodies of 436 people were exhumed from a burial site in the northeastern town of Izyum after it was liberated. Most appeared to have died violent deaths, local officials said.

The discovery at Izyum prompted the European Union to call for a war crimes tribunal in Ukraine and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has sent its largest-ever team of experts to investigate alleged war crimes since the start of the Russian invasion in February.

United Nations investigators have already concluded that war crimes have been committed in the Ukraine conflict, including Russian bombardments of civilian areas, executions, torture and sexual violence.

The United Kingdom and the Netherlands have also sent war crimes investigators to Ukraine to assist local and ICC teams probing possible mass atrocities — including in the Kyiv town of Bucha, where civilians were discovered murdered in April.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday that Ukrainian forces had now recaptured nearly 2,500 square kilometres (965 square miles) of territory from Russia in the counteroffensive that began late last month.

“In total, 2,434 square kilometres of our land and 96 settlements have already been liberated since the beginning of this offensive operation,” Zelenskyy said in his daily speech shared on social media.

Russian forces said earlier on Friday that they had captured ground in Donetsk in east Ukraine, their first claim of battlefield gains since Kyiv grabbed the momentum with its lightning counteroffensive that has deeply rattled Russia’s war effort.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies