Since the withdrawal of Russian troops from the region at the end of March, authorities say they have uncovered the bodies of 1,316 people, many in mass graves in the forest and elsewhere.

The lush green beauty of a pine forest with singing birds contrasted with the violent deaths of newly discovered victims of Russia’s war in Ukraine, as workers exhumed bodies from another mass grave near the town of Bucha on Kyiv’s outskirts, AP reports.

The hands of several victims were tied behind their backs. The gruesome work of digging up the remains coincided with the Ukrainian police chief’s report that authorities have opened criminal investigations into the killings of more than 12,000 people since Russia’ invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Workers wearing white hazmat suits and masks used shovels to exhume bodies from the soil of the forest, marking each section with small yellow numbered signs on the ground. The bodies, covered in cloth and dirt, attracted flies.

“Shots to the knees tell us that people were tortured,” Andriy Nebytov, head of the Kyiv regional police, said at the scene. “The hands tied behind the back with tape say that people had been held (hostage) for a long time and (enemy forces) tried to get any information from them.”

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