Russian troops 'digging up graves' in besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol

Graves in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

Authorities in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol said they've received reports that Russian troops are digging up bodies buried in residential courtyards and not allowing any new burials “of people killed by them”.

Based on testimonies from local residents, Mariupol City Council said: “A watchman has been assigned to each courtyard and is not allowing Mariupol residents to lay to rest dead relatives or friends."

The southern port city has suffered some of the heaviest fighting of the war - at a horrific cost to civilians.

A woman walks past a building damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine.

On Thursday, Mariupol's mayor said latest estimates suggest more than 20,000 civilians have been killed in the city since Russia began its attacks seven weeks ago.

The council's claim that Russian soldiers are digging up bodies could not be independently verified.

"Why the exhumation is being carried out and where the bodies will be taken is unknown," the council continued.

On Friday, Russia's troops were also accused of killing seven people after opening fire on buses carrying civilians in the north east.

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A spokesman for the regional prosecutor’s office told Ukraine’s Suspilne news website that 27 were injured in the attack in the Ukrainian village of Borovaya, near the city of Kharkiv.Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are working to establish the circumstances of the attack, Dmytro Chubenko said. He added that investigators are also establishing the routes and destination of the vehicles transporting civilians across the Russian-controlled territory around Borovaya. Chubenko said that Ukrainian authorities had opened criminal proceedings in connection with a suspected “violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder”.Meanwhile, Russia claimed it has carried out a missile strike on a factory which produces military equipment on the outskirts of Kyiv.

It pledged to ramp up missile attacks on the Ukrainian capital after admitting the flagship of its Black Sea fleet has sunk.