Returning home, residents of Irpin find their homes flooded with World War I-style dart projectiles


“You can’t pull them out with your hands, you have to use pliers,” Klimashevskyi said, pointing to the dark dart-strewn wall.

Called darts – in French “little arrows” – these razor-sharp, inch-long projectiles were a brutal First World War invention when the Allies used them to hit as many enemy soldiers as possible. They are packed in shells which are fired from tanks. When the shell explodes, several thousand projectiles are sprayed over a large area.

Dart shells are not prohibited, but their use in civilian areas is prohibited by humanitarian law, due to their indiscriminate nature. They cause serious damage as they pass through the body, twist and bend – and can be fatal.

The United States used them during the Vietnam War and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs accused the Israeli military of using them against civilians in 2010 in Gaza, according to a State Department report American. But other than that, they have rarely seen use in modern warfare.

After Russian forces withdrew from towns and villages north of kyiv they had occupied in March, evidence emerged that they had used them in their assault.

Irpin, a suburb of kyiv, is not the only place where this evidence has emerged.

In the village of Andriivka, about 20 kilometers west of Irpin, farmer Vadim Bozhko told CNN he found darts strewn along the road leading to his house. Bozhko and his wife hid in the basement as his house was bombed. It was almost completely destroyed by a shell.

The darts were also found in the bodies of people killed in the kyiv suburb of Bucha, according to Ukrainian human rights ombudsman Liudmila Denisova.
Denisova said last month that after “the liberation of cities in the Kyiv region, new atrocities committed by Russian troops are coming to light.”

“Forensic experts found darts in the bodies of Bucha and Irpin residents. [Russians] launched shells with them and used them to shell residential buildings in cities and suburbs,” Denisova said in a statement. It is unclear if the darts were what killed the victims.

Hundreds of metal darts are still embedded deep in the walls of Volodymyr Klimashevskyi's home in Irpin.
This photo taken on Friday May 13 shows dart projectiles stuck in the wall of another civilian house in Irpin.

Klimashevskyi, 57, still vividly remembers the day the darts started raining down on him. It was March 5 and he was lying on the floor of his house, away from the window, sheltered. A shell hit the neighboring house, but did not explode.

The darts covered the area and destroyed his car window, he said.

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His neighbors Anzhelika Kolomiec, 53, and Ihor Novohatniy, 64, fled Irpin amid the worst fighting in March. When they returned after several weeks away, they said they found many darts scattered around their garden and on their roof.

They keep them in a glass jar on the terrace. Every now and then they add another one.

“We find them everywhere,” Novohatniy said, pointing to the darts that are still lodged in the patio roof. “These exceed [of the roof]but usually they are scattered.”

Anzhelika Kolomiec and Ihor Novohatniy show their friend Olegh Bondarenko the metal darts they found scattered around their property.
This photo taken Friday, May 13 shows dart projectiles found in civilian homes in Irpin, Ukraine.

When they were finally able to return home, Kolomiec did what she does every spring. She took care of her garden, planting lettuce leaves, onions and other plants.

As she searched, she kept finding the small metal darts that the Russian soldiers were throwing at her and her house. But the reminder of those terrifying days hasn’t stopped her from doing what she loves.

“I love to garden. I don’t have a lot of space, but last year I had hundreds of tomatoes, I gave them to all my friends. This year we couldn’t have tomatoes , but I have arugula and onion and some flowers.”

CNN’s Gul Tuysuz in Andriivka contributed reporting.

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