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Nine hundred bodies found in Kyiv region

The bodies of more than 900 civilians have been discovered in the region surrounding the Ukrainian capital following Russia’s withdrawal — most of them fatally shot, police said, an indication that many people were “simply executed.”

The jarring number emerged shortly after Russia’s defence ministry promised to step up missile attacks on Kyiv in response to Ukraine’s alleged aggression on Russian territory.

That ominous warning followed the stunning loss of Moscow’s flagship in the Black Sea, which a senior US defence official said on Friday was indeed hit by at least one Ukrainian missile.

Amid its threats, Moscow continues preparations for a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine. Fighting also continues in the pummelled southern port city of Mariupol, where locals reported seeing Russian troops digging up bodies.

Around Kyiv, Andriy Nebytov, the head of Kyiv’s regional police force, said bodies were abandoned in the streets or given temporary burials.

He cited police data indicating 95 per cent died from gunshot wounds.

“Consequently, we understand that under the (Russian) occupation, people were simply executed in the streets,” Nebytov said.

More bodies are being found every day, under rubble and in mass graves, he added. The largest number of victims were found in Bucha, where there were more than 350, he said.

According to Nebytov, utilities workers in Bucha gathered and buried bodies in the Kyiv suburb while it remained under Russian control.

More violence could be in store for Kyiv after Russian authorities accused Ukraine of wounding seven people and damaging about 100 residential buildings with air strikes in Bryansk, a region bordering Ukraine.

Authorities in another border region of Russia also reported Ukrainian shelling Thursday.

“The number and the scale of missile attacks on objects in Kyiv will be ramped up in response to the Kyiv nationalist regime committing any terrorist attacks or diversions on the Russian territory,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

However, Ukrainian officials said their forces did strike a key Russian warship with missiles. A senior US defence official backed up the claim, saying the US now believes the Moskva was hit by at least one, and probably two, Neptune missiles.

The Moskva, named for the Russian capital, then sank while being towed to port Thursday after suffering heavy damage.

Though Moscow did not acknowledge any attack, saying only that a fire had caused ammunition on board to detonate, the loss of the ship represents an important victory for Ukraine and a symbolic defeat for Russia.

The loss was viewed as emblematic of Moscow’s fortunes in a seven-week invasion widely seen as a historic blunder following the retreat from the Kyiv region and much of northern Ukraine.

“A ‘flagship’ Russian warship is a worthy diving site. We have one more diving spot in the Black Sea now. Will definitely visit the wreck after our victory in the war,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov tweeted Friday in a boast.

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