Ukrainian forensic investigators begin to exhume bodies from Bucha . mass grave

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Ukrainian soldiers stand guard next to bodies exhumed from a mass grave during a visit by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in the city of Bucha, as the Russian attack on Ukraine continues, outside Kiev, Ukraine April 8, 2022. REUTERS/Janis Laizans

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BUCHA, Ukraine, April 8 (Reuters) – Forensic investigators began excavating a mass grave in Bucha on Friday, wrapping them in black plastic and laying down the bodies of civilians officials say were killed as Russian forces attacked the city just northwest of Kiev occupy.

Ruslan Kravchenko, of the public prosecutor’s office in Bucha, said they exhumed 20 bodies, 18 of them firearms and shrapnel. He said two women had been identified, one of whom had worked in a supermarket in the city center.

“There are witnesses who can confirm that these people were killed by the Russian troops. For no reason they just walked down the street or were evacuated,” he told Reuters.

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“Some just spoke Ukrainian.”

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that allegations that Russian troops executed civilians in Bucha were a “monstrous falsification” aimed at denigrating the Russian military. read more

Kravchenko said the forensic investigators would work to build a picture of what happened to those buried in the grave, adding that the investigation into the dead was “unprecedented” in scope.

The specialists, dressed in white suits, covered the graves with plastic sheeting while it rained.

Hundreds have been found dead since Russian troops withdrew from Bucha last week, Ukrainian officials said. The mayor of Bucha has said dozens have been killed in extrajudicial killings by Russian troops

Bucha Deputy Mayor Taras Shapravskyi said more than 360 civilians were killed on Friday and about 260-280 were buried by other residents in the mass grave. He added that two parallel trenches had been dug at the site of the mass grave, with bodies stacked in layers.

Reuters was unable to independently verify those figures.

The deaths of civilians in Bucha have been widely condemned by western countries as war crimes.

Reuters has witnessed the remains of five victims in Bucha who were shot in the head. One of them had his hands tied behind his back. Another tied his feet. Reuters has not been able to independently determine who was responsible. read more

The Kremlin, which has denied deliberately targeting civilians after its February 24 invasion of Ukraine, is using evidence of civilian killings in Bucha as a cynical ploy by Ukraine and its Western supporters, whom Moscow says are gripped by discriminatory anti -Russian paranoia.

Moscow calls its action a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarizing and “denazifying” Ukraine. Ukraine and the West say the invasion was illegal and unjustified.

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Reporting by Simon Gardner and Mari Saito Writing by Elizabeth Piper Editing by Angus MacSwan and Frances Kerry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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