KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Indignant at what it called Ukrainian attack on Russian territory and after the astonishing loss of its flagship in the Black Sea, Moscow threatened renewed missile attacks on Kiev, where authorities said the bodies of more than 900 civilians were found outside capital. Most had been shot and killed, police said, and probably “simply executed.”
Russian forces were preparing for a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine, and fighting continued in the battered southern port city of Mariupol., where locals reported having seen Russian troops dig up corpses. In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, the shelling of a residential area killed seven people, including a 7-month-old child, and wounded 34, according to regional governor Oleh Sinehubov.
Early Saturday, Kyiv’s eastern district of Darnytskie was hit, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in an online post. He said rescuers and paramedics were on the scene. He warned residents fleeing the capital not to return for their safety.
In the cities around Kiev, said Andriy Nebytov, who heads the region’s police force, bodies were left in the streets or given temporary burials. He cited police data indicating that 95% died of gunshot wounds.
“As a result, we understand that during the (Russian) occupation, people were simply executed in the streets,” Nebytov said.
Several bodies are found every day under rubble and in mass graves, he added, with the largest number found in Bucha, more than 350. According to Nebytov, supply workers gathered and buried corpses in the Kyiv suburb while it remained under Russian control. Russian troops, he added, had “tracked down” people who expressed strong pro-Ukrainian views.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russian troops occupying parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in the south of terrorizing civilians and hunting down anyone who served in Ukraine’s military or government.
“The occupiers think this will make it easier for them to control this area. But they are very wrong. They are fooling themselves,” Zelenskyy said in his evening video. “Russia’s problem is that it is not accepted – and never will be accepted – by the entire Ukrainian people. Russia has lost Ukraine forever. “
Officials believe 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops died in the war, Zelenskyy told CNN in an interview. He said about 10,000 have been injured and it is “difficult to say how many will survive.”
More violence may be in store for Kiev after Russian authorities accused Ukraine of injuring seven people and damaging about 100 residential buildings with airstrikes in Bryansk, a region bordering Ukraine. Authorities in another border region of Russia also reported Ukrainian shelling on Thursday.
“The number and scale of missile strikes on objects in Kiev will increase in response to Kyiv’s nationalist regime committing terrorist attacks or diversions on Russian territory,” said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
Russia used missiles to destroy a facility for the repair and production of missile systems in Kiev, Konashenkov said. The Ukrainian state arms manufacturer, Ukroboronprom, said Russian forces hit one of the missile workshops at the Vizar factory near Kiev’s Zhuliany airport.
Ukrainian officials have not confirmed attacking targets in Russia and the reports could not be independently verified.
But Ukrainian officials said forces hit an important Russian warship with missiles. A senior U.S. defense official supported the claim, saying the United States now believes Moscow was hit by at least one Neptune anti-ship missile and probably two. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence assessment.
Moscow, named after the Russian capital, sank while being towed to port Thursday after taking major damage. Moscow did not acknowledge any attack and said only that a fire had detonated ammunition on board. The loss of the ship represents an important victory for Ukraine and a symbolic defeat for Russia.
The sinking reduces Russia’s firepower in the Black Sea and seemed to symbolize Moscow’s fortunes in an eight-week invasion that is widely perceived as a historic blunder. after the Russian withdrawal from the Kyiv region and large parts of northern Ukraine.
“A ‘flagship’ Russian warship is a worthy dive site. We have another dive site in the Black Sea now. Will definitely visit the wreck after our victory in the war,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov tweeted on Friday.
Russia’s warning of renewed air strikes did not prevent Kyiv residents from taking advantage of a sunny and slightly warmer spring Friday as the weekend approached. More people than usual were out on the streets, walking dogs, riding electric scooters and strolling hand in hand.
Such preliminary signs of pre-war life have reappeared in the capital after Russian troops failed to capture the city and withdrew to concentrate on eastern Ukraine, leaving evidence of possible war crimes. But a renewed bombardment could mean a return to the constant howl of air raid sirens heard in the early days of the invasion and for dreadful nights in shelter at subway stations.
In Mariupol, the city council said on Friday that locals reported seeing Russian troops digging corpses buried in courtyards and not allowing new burials “of people killed by them.”
“Why the excavation is being carried out and where the bodies will be taken is unknown,” the council said on the Telegram messaging app.
Fighting continued in industrial areas and the port, and Russia used the Tu-22М3 long-range bomber for the first time to attack the city, said Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
Mariupol has been blocked by Russian forces since the early days of the invasion, and a dwindling number of Ukrainian defenders have endured a siege that has cost terrifying prisoners and starving civilians.
The mayor said this week that the city’s death toll could exceed 20,000. Other Ukrainian officials have said they expect to find evidence in Mariupol of atrocities like those discovered in Bucha and other cities outside Kiev.
The capture of Mariupol would allow Russian forces in the south, which came up through the annexed Crimean peninsula, to fully connect with troops in the Donbas region, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, and the target of the impending offensive.
It is not certain when Russia will launch a full-scale campaign.
Also on Friday, a Russian rocket hit an airport at night in the central city of Oleksandriia, Mayor Serhiy Kuzmenko said via Facebook. He did not mention anything about the injured.
And a regional Ukrainian official said seven people were killed and 27 wounded when Russian forces fired on buses carrying civilians in the village of Borovaya near Kharkiv. The claim could not be independently verified.
Dmytro Chubenko, a spokesman for the regional prosecutor’s office, told the Suspilne news website that the authorities had launched a criminal case in connection with a suspected “violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder.”
Fisch reported from Kramatorsk. Burns reported from Washington. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.
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