By Zohra Bensemra and Joseph Campbell
(Reuters) – Ukrainian investigators have examined 269 dead bodies in Irpin, near Kyiv, since the town was taken back from Russian forces in late March, a police official said on Monday, as workers dug fresh graves on its outskirts.
The town, which had a pre-war population of about 62,000, was one of the main hotspots of fighting with Russian troops before they pulled back from Ukraine’s northern regions to intensify their offensive in the east.
At a cemetery on the outskirts of Irpin, dozens of new graves have been dug and heaped with wreaths. Under the watch of a few tearful mourners, workers hurriedly shovelled the sandy earth into one grave on Monday.
“As of now, we have inspected 269 dead bodies,” said Serhiy Panteleyev, first deputy head of the police’s main investigation department, at an online briefing.
He said forensic work was ongoing to determine the cause of death for many of the victims, sharing photos of severely charred human remains.
He said seven sites in Irpin where civilians were allegedly shot have been inspected, without giving further details.
Russia denies targeting civilians and has dismissed allegations its troops committed war crimes in occupied areas of Ukraine.
(Additional reporting by Max Hunder; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Jan Harvey)