Ukraine’s top prosecutor said 410 bodies were found in towns recaptured from retreating Russian forces near Kyiv as part of an investigation into possible war crimes, according to reporting by Reuters. Some alleged witnesses, however, are so traumatized by their ordeal that they cannot yet speak, said Iryna Venedyktova, Ukraine’s prosecutor general.
The mayor in Bucha, a town 23 miles northwest of Kyiv that has been liberated by Ukrainian forces, told Reuters that 300 residents had been killed while fighters from Chechnya controlled the area.
Russia has denied allegations that its troops killed civilians in Bucha. Ukrainian prosecutors were only able to enter the towns of Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel for the first time on Sunday and they need more time to work out the extent of the crimes, said Venedyktova.
“We need to work with witnesses,” she said, according to Reuters. “People today are so stressed that they are physically unable to speak.”
For his part, Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskiy reportedly has said it is clear hundreds of civilians had been killed but that he did not want to specify exactly how many there were.
Earlier, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of genocide against Ukrainian people, saying in an interview that: “We have more than 100 nationalities. This is about the destruction and extermination of those nationalities.”
Zelenskyy made those comments after warning that forces want to seize the east and south of the country. He also said Ukrainian forces had regained control over communities in Kyiv and Chernihiv.
Zelenskyy has also called for a ceasefire before meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.