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Amnesty accuses Russia of war crimes in Kharkiv citing repeated use of ‘cluster bombs’

Amnesty International has accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine, claiming hundreds of civilians had died in the city of Kharkiv from attacks involving banned cluster bombs.

The human rights organisation said it had found evidence of Russian forces repeatedly using 9N210 and 9N235 cluster bombs and scatterable land mines in Kharkiv, all of which are banned under international conventions.

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

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

“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.”

The report, called Anyone Can Die At Any Time, details how Russian forces began targeting civilian areas of Kharkiv on the first day of the invasion on February 24.

According to Kharkiv’s Military Administration, 606 civilians had been killed and 1,248 injured in the region since the invasion began.

“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,” Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, said.

“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.”

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