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Ukrainian officials report evidence of mass graves outside of Mariupol

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Ukrainian officials report evidence of mass graves outside of Mariupol
Debris of destroyed Mariupol buildings in March. On Thursday, Ukrainian politicians pointed to satellite imagery as evidence that Russian forces have tried to conceal the execution of civilians by burying bodies in mass graves. File Photo by State Emergency Service of Ukraine/UPI | License Photo

April 21 (UPI) -- Ukrainian politicians from the city of Mariupol accused Russian occupying forces on Thursday of attempting to conceal the deaths of thousands of civilians by burying bodies in mass graves.

Up to 9,000 bodies may be buried in and around the town of Manhush, according to Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko, the Kyiv Independent reported.

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Andriushchenko posted what appear to be satellite images of mass graves on his official Telegram account.

"Today the whole world has seen how the occupiers are burying Mariupol residents," he wrote.

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Manhush is a town located around 12.5 miles west of Mariupol, the besieged port city that was encircled by Russian forces on Tuesday. The same day, Russia called on Ukrainian troops to give up their remaining vestiges of defense of the city in southern Ukraine, where a steel plant was under attack.

Boychenko estimated that more than 20,000 civilians have been killed by Russian artillery and missile strikes in Mariupol, Sky News reported.

"These are war crimes and they are hiding these war crimes," Boychenko said.

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After a 50-day assault, Ukrainian troops are now barricaded inside the Azovstal steel mill.

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But Russian President Vladimir Putin canceled plans to storm the heavily fortified facility, instead ordering his military to surround the plant.

"The completion of the combat operation to liberate Mariupol is a success," Putin said Thursday during a televised meeting, Russian state-run media outlet TASS reported.

"I consider the proposed storming of the industrial zone unnecessary. There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities."

In early April, Russian forces were accused of executing civilians in the Ukrainian city of Buch and burying their bodies in an attempt to conceal the killing.

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