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Illustrative purposes only: A police car drives past a destroyed building in Vovchansk, Kharkiv Oblast, on May 11, 2024. (Francis Farrell/The Kyiv Independent).
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Russian forces are taking Ukrainian civilians captive and preventing their evacuation in the embattled northern part of Vovchansk in Kharkiv Oblast, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on May 16.

"We know of first cases of executions of civilians by the Russian military," Klymenko said on his Telegram channel.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry confirmed on May 15 that Russian units had entered the northern parts of the town, but the Ukrainian military reportedly prevented them from establishing a foothold deeper in Vovchansk.

Klymenko reported on a case when a Vovchansk resident was killed by Russian soldiers after he refused to obey their orders and attempted to escape on foot. Police investigators had opened a criminal case on the grounds of violations of rules of war.

Other civilians are being taken into captivity and forced into basements, according to the minister.

Ukraine's police officers continue evacuating people in spite of the ongoing hostilities, he added.

As of February, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has verified 30,457 civilian casualties, including 19,875 injured, as a result of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The OHCHR noted that the real number is likely higher. Russia does not allow monitoring in occupied territories, some of which likely suffered the heaviest costs in civilian lives, such as Mariupol.

A U.N. report from last December said that the international organization had documented 142 cases of summary executions of Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces.

Ukraine war latest: Ukrainian forces stabilize situation in Kharkiv Oblast, ‘partially’ push Russian troops out of Vovchansk
Key developments on May 15: * Zelensky: Ukraine stabilizes situation in Kharkiv Oblast amid Russian offensive * General Staff: Russian forces ‘partially pushed out’ from Vovchansk * Ukraine deploys more forces to Kharkiv Oblast * Blinken: US to give Ukraine additional $2 billion in military fin…
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