Some 400 bodies, mostly of civilians, were taken to the morgues of Donetsk and other cities in eastern Ukraine now controlled by pro-Russian rebel militias after they were retrieved from mass graves, the insurgents said on Monday.
"Currently there are about 400 bodies in morgues, 350 of which are of civilians, and many are in such a state that they cannot be identified," said the deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk, Andrei Purgin.
He added that the bodies belong to people killed since the beginning of the four-month Ukrainian military operation in the eastern regions of the country against the rebels who are being armed and supported by Moscow.
Purgin added that "the bodies were found in different places, now under control of the separatists, but before that they were controlled by the Ukrainian forces," a Russian news agency claimed.
Rebel authorities in the Donetsk region are preparing to ask Russia to send experts to help with the identification of the bodies, the Russian agency report said.
Last week, the prime minister of the People's Republic of Donetsk, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, announced that the bodies of 40 civilians had been recovered from mass graves in the region.
The remains of 30 more civilians were found in the town of Telmanovsk. Two more graves were discovered in a mine in the town of Kommunar, 60 km from Donetsk, with the bodies of four civilians and five militants, who were apparently shot execution-style.
Two days later, the Ukrainian authorities said they found three mass graves in the city of Sloviansk, in the same region, a town controlled by the pro-Russian militia until the beginning of July.
Both sides have exchanged accusations of war crimes during the conflict that broke out after pro-Russian militia took up arms against the Ukrainian government in Kiev.
— Maria Finoshina (@MFinoshina_RT) September 27, 2014