'Whole Families' Among 180 Bodies Found in Mass Grave in Lyman: Ukraine

Mass Grave Burial Lyman Russia Ukraine War
Forensic technicians and officials are pictured at a mass burial site in Izium, Ukraine, on September 16, 2022. Ukrainian officials said that a different mass grave containing the bodies of at least 180 civilians, including entire families, was discovered this week in the recaptured city of Lyman. Yevhenii Zavhorodnii/Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images

Ukrainian officials say that at least 180 bodies, including "whole families" with young children, have been discovered in a mass grave in Lyman less than one week after troops reclaimed the formerly Russian-occupied city.

Yevhen Zhukov, head of the patrol department of Ukraine's National Police, announced the discovery on Friday in a message posted to a Telegram account that he operates under the call sign "Marshal," according to the state-owned media outlet Ukrinform.

Zhukov said in the message that a mass grave "in which 180 were buried" had been discovered in "freed Lyman," adding that "whole families lie in mass graves," including the "burials of children born in 2019-2021."

Ukrainian troops recaptured Lyman, a strategically important city in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region, only two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that the region was one of four that were annexed for Russia last week.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of Donetsk, said in a Facebook post on Friday that "about two hundred" people had been discovered in a mass gravesite containing the remains of civilians in Lyman, while cautioning that officials were still working to determine the final number of bodies and their cause of death.

Kyrylenko said that a second mass burial site found in Lyman may contain the bodies of "both military and civilians." The number of bodies buried in the second site has yet to be determined.

He also said that the bodies of 21 civilians had been re-buried in a city cemetery in Svyatogorsk, approximately 15 miles northwest of Lyman.

"These are civilians who died during the occupation of the city," Kyrylenko said. "The dead were buried in the streets and yards ... May they rest in peace—the Russians will be punished for every destroyed, mutilated and taken human life."

Ukrainian officials have reported finding several other mass burial sites in different parts of the country that have been recaptured from Russian occupiers.

Serhii Bolvinov, head of the investigative department of the regional police in the Kharkiv region, said during a press conference on Thursday that over 500 bodies had been discovered in liberated areas of Kharkiv since early September.

At least 477 bodies were discovered at a mass burial in the city of Izium after Russian forces were driven out of the area by the Ukrainian counteroffensive last month. Ukrainian officials also allegedly discovered 22 Russian torture sites in the region.

"Russian units set up such places of detention of civilians and prisoners of war in almost all the settlements where they were based," Bolvinov said, while adding that those tortured were subjected to beatings, electric shock, the removal of fingernails and restricted breathing.

The United Nations has estimated that there have been 14,059 civilians killed or injured in Ukraine since Russia invaded February 24, with at least 5,767 deaths. Many of the bodies were buried in mass graves. Experts have said that identifying all the remains could take "years."

Newsweek has reached out to the Russian government and the Institute for the Study of War think tank for comment.