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city under siege Satellite images show what appear to be mass graves near Mariupol in Ukraine

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This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies on Thursday, April 21, 2022 shows an overview of the cemetery in Manhush, some 20 kilometers west of Mariupol, Ukraine,

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies on Thursday, April 21, 2022 shows an overview of the cemetery in Manhush, some 20 kilometers west of Mariupol, Ukraine,

Ukrainians arrive in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine after fleeing Mariupol. Photo:AP Photo/Leo Correa

Ukrainians arrive in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine after fleeing Mariupol. Photo:AP Photo/Leo Correa

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This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies on Thursday, April 21, 2022 shows an overview of the cemetery in Manhush, some 20 kilometers west of Mariupol, Ukraine,

Satellite images have shown what appear to be mass graves near Mariupol, and local officials have accused Russia of burying up to 9,000 Ukrainian civilians there in an effort to conceal the slaughter taking place in the siege of the port city.

Satellite image provider Maxar Technologies released the photos, which it said showed more than 200 mass graves in a town where Ukrainian officials say the Russians have been burying Mariupol residents killed in the fighting.

The imagery showed long rows of graves stretching away from an existing cemetery in the town of Manhush, outside Mariupol.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko accused the Russians of “hiding their military crimes” by taking the bodies of civilians from the city and burying them in Manhush.

The Mariupol City Council said Thursday in a post on the Telegram messaging app that the graves could hold as many as 9,000 dead.

It came as Russian forces have attempted to storm the base of the last Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol, the Ukrainian military said.

Troops were said to have attacked the Azovstal steel plant – where the few thousand remaining Ukrainian troops in the besieged port city are hiding – despite an order from Vladimir Putin to the contrary.

The Russian president earlier said he told his forces not to attempt to capture the plant but to blockade it.

Most of Mariupol is under Russian control and the city’s mayor Vadym Boychenko said around 100,000 residents remained trapped in the conflict zone.

A small convoy of buses evacuated people from Mariupol today and headed for the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporhizhia, he said.

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