Russia accused of war crimes in Kharkiv

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Amnesty International has accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine, saying attacks in the second largest city of Kharkiv, many using banned cluster bombs, have killed hundreds of civilians.

The rights group made the remark in a report titled, ‘Anyone Can Die At Any Time’, published on Monday, the Guardian reported.

“The repeated bombardments of residential neighbourhoods in Kharkiv are indiscriminate attacks which killed and injured hundreds of civilians, and as such constitute war crimes,” the report said.

“This is true both for the strikes carried out using cluster (munitions) as well as those conducted using other types of unguided rockets and unguided artillery shells.

“The continued use of such inaccurate explosive weapons in populated civilian areas, in the knowledge that they are repeatedly causing large numbers of civilian casualties, may even amount to directing attacks against the civilian population,” it added.

The Amnesty said it had uncovered proof in Kharkiv of the repeated use by Russian forces of 9N210 and 9N235 cluster bombs and scatterable land mines, all of which are banned under international conventions, the Guardian reported.

Cluster bombs release dozens of bomblets or grenades in mid-air, scattering them indiscriminately over hundreds of square metres.

Scatterable land mines combine “the worst possible attributes of cluster munitions and antipersonnel land mines”, the Amnesty report said, adding that unguided artillery shells have a margin of error of over 100m.

The report details how Russian forces began targeting civilian areas of Kharkiv on the first day of the invasion on February 24.

The “relentless” shelling continued for two months, wreaking “wholesale destruction” on the city of 1.5 million.

People have been killed in their homes and in the streets, in playgrounds and in cemeteries, while queueing for humanitarian aid, or shopping for food and medicine,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser.

“The repeated use of widely banned cluster munitions is shocking, and a further indication of utter disregard for civilian lives. The Russian forces responsible for these horrific attacks must be held accountable.”

Kharkiv’s Military Administration told Amnesty that 606 civilians had been killed and 1,248 wounded in the region since the war began, the Guardian reported.

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