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Moscow's forces have killed at least 441 civilians in the early stages of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations human rights office said today, documenting raids and summary executions in dozens of cities that the office said could amount to war crimes. , reported Reuters, quoted by BTA.

The actual death toll in the Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions is likely to be much higher, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a report covering the period from the start of the invasion on February 24 to early April, when Russian forces withdrew from the three districts.

"The actions in question were carried out by Russian armed forces controlling these areas and resulted in the deaths of 441 civilians (341 men, 72 women, 20 boys and 8 girls)," the report said.

"There are strong indications that the summary executions documented in the report constitute the war crime of premeditated murder," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said in a statement.

Through the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights collected evidence from 102 towns and villages.

Russia's foreign and defense ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Moscow has repeatedly denied that it is targeting civilians in its so-called "special military operation".

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says the total civilian casualties in the war up to December 4 are 6,702, adding that its monitoring includes violations by all sides.

The scope of the new report was limited to Russian-held areas in the early days of the fighting because of "widespread allegations of civilian killings in these three regions" and the ability of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to verify and document the deaths there after the withdrawal of Russian troops.

In October, a UN panel concluded that Russian forces were responsible for most of the human rights abuses in the early days of the war.

Many of the bodies mentioned in the new report have signs that suggest the victims may have been deliberately killed, the report said.

As of late October, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was still trying to confirm an additional 198 alleged killings of civilians in the three areas that occurred early in the war.

"Some areas bore the brunt of the killings," the report said, citing as an example the town of Bucha, near the capital Kyiv, which was under the control of Russian troops from March 5 to March 30.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said it had documented the killings of 73 civilians in Bucha and was still seeking confirmation of another 105 cases.

Bodies of civilians have been found in the town of Bucha outside Kyiv, a Ukrainian official says

The stated purpose of the report is to help victims by documenting the deaths, as well as attempting to bring the perpetrators of the crimes to justice.

It analyzes 100 of the murders in detail.

The document classifies 57 of them as summary executions, 30 of which were of people in custody, while 27 were victims executed on the spot.

In the remaining 43 cases, civilians were killed while moving in or between settlements on foot or by bicycle, car or van.

"Most victims were targeted while traveling to work, delivering food to others, visiting neighbors or relatives, or while trying to escape the fighting," the document said.