The verdant beauty of a pine forest with songbirds contrasted with the violent deaths of newly discovered victims of the Russian war in Ukraine, as workers exhumed bodies from another mass grave near the town of Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv.
The hands of several victims were tied behind their backs. The gruesome job of digging up the remains coincided with Ukraine’s police chief’s report that authorities have opened criminal investigations into the killing of more than 12,000 people since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. .
Workers wearing white hazmat suits and masks used shovels to exhume the bodies from the forest floor, marking each section with small numbered yellow signs on the ground. The bodies, covered with cloth and earth, attracted flies.
“Bullets in the knees tell us that people have been tortured,” Kyiv regional police chief Andriy Nebytov said at the scene.
“Hands tied behind their backs with duct tape indicate that people were held (hostage) for a long time and (enemy forces) tried to get information from them.” Since the withdrawal of Russian troops from the region in late March, authorities say they have discovered the bodies of 1,316 people, many of them in mass graves in the forest and elsewhere.
The horrors of Bucha shocked the world after the departure of Russian troops. The mass grave that reporters saw on Monday was just behind a trench dug for a military vehicle. The bodies of seven civilians were recovered. Two of the bodies were found with their hands tied and gunshot wounds to the knees and head, Nebytov said.
National Police Chief Igor Klimenko told the Interfax-Ukraine news agency on Monday that criminal investigations into the deaths of more than 12,000 Ukrainians included finds in mass graves. He added that the killings were also carried out by snipers firing from tanks and armored personnel carriers. Bodies were found lying in the streets and houses, as well as in mass graves.
He did not specify how many of the more than 12,000 were civilians and how many were military.