Ukraine says 24 dead after attack on civilian convoy
KHARKIV, Ukraine, Oct 1, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Ukraine on Saturday accused
Russian forces of gunning down 24 civilians, including 13 children, in an
attack on a road convoy near the recently recaptured town of Kupiansk.
On Friday, Ukrainian troops had shown AFP reporters a group of vehicles
riddled with bullet holes and several corpses in civilian clothes outside the
village of Kyrylivka, a short distance east of Kupiansk.
A day later, Kharkiv regional governor Oleg Synegubov put the preliminary
death toll at 24 including, he said, a pregnant woman and 13 children,
alleging: "Russians fired on the civilians at close range."
In an online video shared by official channels, a senior paramedic from the
Kupiansk Department of Emergency Medical Care confirmed these numbers.
The Kharkiv region prosecutor's office said: "On September 30 prosecutors,
investigators of the Security Service and the police discovered a convoy of
seven cars that had been shot.
"The car queue was shot by the Russian army on September 25, when civilians
were trying to evacuate," the statement alleged.
"Two cars have burnt completely with children and their parents inside --
they burnt alive," it said.
Ukrainian officials have launched an investigation and allege that the
Russian forces that were driven out of Kyrylivka last Sunday were behind the
war's latest apparent massacre.
"The occupiers are being defeated on the battlefield and desperately
respond by killing civilians," said the head of the Security Service of
Ukraine, Vasyl Malyuk.
"We will find everyone and hold them accountable for committed atrocities,"
he said. "Several people had managed to escape from Hell. Now they're
testifying to the investigators."
The spokesman for the Kharkiv region prosecutor's office Dmytro Chubenko
said during a TV interview that the massacre site's "grey area" frontline
location was hampering the probe.
"There is no permanent control of the Ukrainian military over this
territory," he said.
"It is periodically either under our control or under the control of
Russia, so we cannot fully carry out investigative actions."
On Wednesday, an official from the Kremlin proxy administration in the
occupied region of Lugansk had accused Kyiv's forces of firing on a civilian
convoy, without providing evidence.
On Friday, AFP reporters counted the bodies of at least 11 civilians in the
wrecked cars, some burned beyond recognition.
Ukrainian troops operating nearby said they had found the dead on an
exposed section of road alongside a rail track, as defeated Russian forces
retreated from the area.
- Bullet holes -
On Friday the bodies remained where they had died in and around the
vehicles on a road running southeast from Kyrylivka 70 kilometres (43 miles)
east of Kharkiv, in the direction of the Russian retreat.
A small van or minibus was completely burnt out, with the carbonised
remains of four people within. At least one of these corpses appeared small
enough to have been a child.
"The vehicles were moving all together as a civilian convoy. We can see
that there is almost no distance between the vehicles," said "Filya", a
Ukrainian soldier who guided AFP to the scene.
"And obviously they were attacked by gunfire because you can see the bullet
holes ... One car was set on fire and it's impossible to recognise the people
without an expert," he said.
Russia's February invasion allowed Moscow to seize a swathe of northern and
eastern Ukraine, but this month a lightning Ukrainian counteroffensive in the
Kharkiv region has driven them back.
Russian occupations forces have been accused of brutalising and murdering
civilians several times during the seven-month-old war, and have hit cities
with deadly missile strikes.