World leaders decry 'horrifying' 'war crimes' in liberated towns near Kyiv

This video contains distressing images

ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers on the horrors found after Ukraine recaptured the city of Bucha

World leaders have condemned Russia's killing of civilians in the Kyiv region, with many saying the atrocities amount to war crimes.

Ukrainian troops found brutalised bodies and widespread destruction in suburbs of the capital as Russian soldiers withdrew from the region and relinquished control.

Local authorities reported indications of execution-style killing and other alleged war crimes, while the nation's prosecutor-general said the bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from recaptured towns.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said scores of killed civilians were found on the streets of Bucha and the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin and Hostomel in what looked like a “scene from a horror movie.”

Mr Arestovych said some people were shot in the head and had their hands bound, and some bodies showed signs of torture, rape and burning.

Associated Press journalists in Bucha, a small city northwest of Kyiv, saw the bodies of at least nine people in civilian clothes who appeared to have been killed at close range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs.

The news service also saw two bodies wrapped in plastic, bound with tape and thrown into a ditch.

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Kyiv's mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said civilians were “shot with joined hands” and told German newspaper Bild that “what happened in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv can only be described as genocide.”

A day earlier, journalists witnessed Ukrainian soldiers gingerly removing at least six bodies from a street in Bucha with cables in case the Russians had booby-trapped corpses with explosives before their withdrawal.

Local residents said the dead people were civilians killed without provocation, a claim that could not be independently verified.

Mr Klitschko called on other nations to immediately end Russian gas imports, saying they were funding the invasion of Ukraine, now in its 39th day.

“Not a penny should go to Russia anymore. That's bloody money used to slaughter people. The gas and oil embargo must come immediately,” the mayor said.

A woman hugs a Ukrainian serviceman after a convoy of military and aid vehicles arrived in the formerly Russian-occupied Bucha. Credit: AP

Boris Johnson condemned Russia’s “despicable attacks” as "yet more evidence that Russian president Vladimir Putin and his army are committing war crimes in Ukraine". Mr Johnson called the attacks in the towns of Irpin and Bucha “despicable” and said he “will do everything in my power to starve Putin’s war machine”. The PM added that the U.K. will step up its sanctions and military support for Ukraine, but did not provide details.

Other European leaders also condemned the attacks on Ukrainian civilians. Leaders in France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic and Poland expressed outrage at the images. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala called the images ”horrifying” and said Russia has been committing war crimes. German chancellor Olaf Scholz said international organisations should be given access to the areas to independently document the atrocities. French foreign affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said his country will work with Ukrainian authorities and the International Criminal Court “to ensure these acts don’t go unpunished”.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, wrote on Twitter that he was shocked by the “haunting images of atrocities committed by Russian army" in the capital region.

The EU and non-governmental organisations were assisting in the effort to preserve evidence of war crimes, according to Mr Michel, who promised “further EU sanctions” against Russia.