As towns of Bucha and Irpin were retaken from withdrawing Russian forces, horrific photos and videos began to flow in.
Ruined houses, burned-down cars, and bodies of civilians scattered around the streets.
The photos appear to prove that the Russian forces carried out targeted, organized killings of civilians in Bucha, particularly of men: They are often found shot dead, with their hands tied behind their backs.
Before the war, Irpin and Bucha were quiet satellite towns of Kyiv, home to 60,000 and 28,000 people, respectively.
During the Russian invasion that started on Feb. 24, the two towns became the site of fierce fighting, as Russians were trying to approach Kyiv from the northwest. Bucha spent weeks under Russian military control, while Irpin was partly controlled by Russians.
During this time, there were multiple reports of Russians killing civilians, including reports that adult men were singled out and murdered in Bucha. The photos appear to prove that.
Irpin was retaken from the Russians on March 28, and Bucha on April 1. A day later, the Ukrainian government said that the entire Kyiv Oblast was free of Russian forces.
According to the mayor of Bucha Anatoly Fedoruk, just in the first day after Bucha was liberated, local authorities collected 280 bodies and buried them in mass graves.
It’s far from the final death toll in Bucha. On March 12, it was reported that the citizens of Bucha buried 57 bodies in another mass grave, near a local church.
Civilians were being murdered in Irpin, too. One photo that circulated earlier showed an improvized grave of a mother and her son, who were shot by Russians as they were trying to flee the city. Neighbors buried them in their apartment building’s courtyard.
Leaving, the Russian military left mines and other explosives in Irpin and Bucha. On April 2 only, the Ukrainian forces found and deactivated 643 explosives in Irpin, according to the State Emergency Service.
Despite the Russian authorities claiming that their forces are not targeting civilians in Ukraine, there is clear evidence of the opposite. Russian forces have repeatedly attacked densely populated residential areas of Ukraine’s cities with missiles, air bombs, and artillery.
In Kyiv Oblast Russian forces have been shooting at evacuating civilians. In Mariupol, which has been under siege since early March with little to no connection to the outside world, several thousands of civilians are estimated to have been killed by shelling and air strikes.