Slavyansk: Local authorities say they have uncovered the first mass grave in the former separatist bastion of Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine, containing the bodies of at least four civilians they say were executed by pro-Russian rebels.
"We know there are others in the town but we don`t know where. This is the first one we`re excavating," said Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian interior ministry adviser who presided at a brief ceremony yesterday for townspeople.
"In this mass grave are the bodies of four Protestant parishioners, innocents who were tortured and killed by the rebels," he said.
Local officials, police and forensic experts oversaw the exhumation and Gerashchenko said that the grave could also contain the remains of some 20 rebel fighters.
Ukrainian forces earlier this month recaptured Slavyansk which had served since April as the main stronghold of the pro-Russian rebellion.
The rebels have been accused by rights groups of abducting hundreds of pro-Kiev activists and ordinary citizens in the territory they control.