Ukraine probes suspected mass burial on Russia border

Ukraine probes suspected mass burial on Russia border

Ukrainian service members shoot in the air during a funeral ceremony for their brother-in-arms Armen Petrosian, 50, who was recently killed in a fight against Russian troops during the liberation of Kharkiv region, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Perechyn, Zakarpattia region, Ukraine on Sunday. (Reuters photo)
Ukrainian service members shoot in the air during a funeral ceremony for their brother-in-arms Armen Petrosian, 50, who was recently killed in a fight against Russian troops during the liberation of Kharkiv region, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Perechyn, Zakarpattia region, Ukraine on Sunday. (Reuters photo)

Ukrainian forces are investigating a suspected mass burial site feared to hold scores of bodies at an abandoned former Russian position near the border, troops and local officials said Monday.

The site is an industrial chicken farm outside Kozacha Lopan around two kilometres from the international border, once used by Russian troops to shelter their tanks.

Officials and soldiers spoke of up to 100 bodies, but it was not clear how they arrived at this number.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian forces recaptured the area and pushed Russian forces back over the border in a lightning offensive to liberate the northeastern region of Kharkiv from occupation.

But the suspected grave site is still within range of Russian artillery and soldiers protecting the plant told AFP that de-mining teams have yet to sweep the area for mines or unexploded shells.

Forensic teams will not be able to investigate until the area is secure.

According to Lyudmyla Vakulenko, head of the Kozacha Lopan local administration, Ukrainian forces had first tried to recapture the area in April, but had been beaten back causing many casualties.

"I was told by the soldiers who came to our village that they saw a burial place of soldiers, but they didn't specify the number," she said.

"They said a specialised unit would look into it," she added.

Vakulenko said the army suspects the missing troops were buried in the derelict chicken plant, and soldiers at the site said they thought the grave could also hold dead Russian personnel and local Ukrainian civilians.

On Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky told CBS news Ukraine had found "two more mass graves, big graves with hundreds of people", but it was not immediately clear if he was referring to Kozacha Lopan.

Earlier this month, Ukraine uncovered a mass burial site beside a graveyard in a wood outside the liberated town on Izyum holding 447 mainly civilian bodies, some of them showing signs of torture.


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