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The Czech EU Presidency on Saturday called for the creation of a special international tribunal after the discovery of hundreds of bodies near Izium, a Russian-taken town in eastern Ukraine where fighting is ongoing.

“In the 21st century, such attacks on civilians are unthinkable and abhorrent,” Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said on Twitter on Saturday.

“I call for the swift establishment of a special international tribunal,” he added.

Ukrainian authorities reported Friday that “450 bodies of civilians with traces of violent death and torture” were buried in a forest on the outskirts of Izium.

An AFP journalist was able to see at least one body at the scene, their hands tied with ropes.

Ukrainian human rights commissioner Dmytro Loubinets spoke of “probably more than 1,000 Ukrainian citizens who were tortured and killed in the liberated areas”, and Ukrainian police chief Igor Klymenko reported the discovery of 10 “torture rooms”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday denounced the crimes committed by an army of “torturers”.

The announcement of this macabre discovery sparked a new wave of outrage in the West, just over five months after the Russian army, which was driven out of the vicinity of Kyiv, left behind hundreds of corpses of civilians, many bearing traces of torture and summary executions, particularly in the village of Boutcha.

“The world must react”

“The world needs to respond to all of this. Russia repeated in Izium what it did in Boutcha,” Zelenskyy said in a video message on Friday evening, welcoming the UN’s announcement that it would send a team to the field to join the Ukrainian investigation.

The United States and the European Union have expressed outrage and held accountable the Russian leadership, which European diplomatic chief Josep Borrell has assured will be “accountable”.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she wanted Russian President Vladimir Putin to stand trial for war crimes on Thursday.

For his part, US President Joe Biden again warned his Russian counterpart against the use of chemical or nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Biden warning

“It would change the course of the war like it had not since World War II,” warned the American head of state in an interview with CBS on Friday evening.

“Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it,” urged Mr Biden, promising a “substantive” response from the United States if that step were taken.

Fighting and bombing continues on the ground, where Western-armed Ukrainian forces have captured thousands of square kilometers thanks to a counter-offensive in the north-east.

In Kupyansk, which was retaken by Ukrainian forces last week, clashes continue with the Russian army holed up on the east side of the Oskil River, AFP journalists noted.

Artillery fire echoes through the city, partially destroyed by the fighting, and rare residents venture onto the streets, where Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers circulate.

The Ukrainian police had yet to reinvest the damaged and disorganized police station, with a torn red flag of the Russian army lying on the ground in front of the entrance.

According to a statement by the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, “during the day the enemy carried out four rocket attacks and 15 airstrikes, as well as more than 20 multiple rocket launcher attacks on civilian and military locations in Ukraine.”

In the Kharkiv region, an 11-year-old girl was killed by Russian rocket fire on the city of Chuyguiv, Governor Oleg Synegoubov said.

Plant bombed

A thermal power plant was “bombed by Russian invaders” on Saturday morning in Mykolaivka, Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk region (east) said on Telegram, noting that Ukrainian firefighters were fighting the blaze there and that the bombardment had led to cuts in drinking water .

“The occupiers are deliberately targeting the infrastructure in the area to try to inflict as much damage as possible, primarily on the civilian population,” he accused.

He had previously reported that two civilians had been killed and 11 injured by Russian fire in the past 24 hours.

In the neighboring region of Dnipropetrovsk, “the Russians fired at the Nikopol district all night with Grads (several rocket launchers, editor’s note) and heavy artillery,” said local governor Valentin Reznitchenko, pointing out that there were no injuries, but there was considerable property damage.

However, according to local assembly leader Mykola Loukachouk, Russian fire has killed two people and injured three in the past 24 hours.

In the south, “one person died in Dmitrivka after enemy shelling,” said Mykolaiv Region Governor Vitaly Kim.

The Russian army, which denies attacking civilian infrastructure or residential areas, claims to have carried out “high-precision strikes” against Ukrainian positions in the Mykolayiv and Kharkiv regions.

As for the Zaporijjia nuclear power plant, which has been at stake in clashes between Russians and Ukrainians in recent weeks that have led to the shutdown of all its reactors, it has been reconnected to the Ukrainian grid, which will ensure cooling of the installations, shared the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Saturday.

This article was published automatically. Sources: ats/afp

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