A Russian soldier
Representation. A Russian soldier stands guard at the Luhansk power plant in the town of Shchastya. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images


  • A family of eight was executed Monday in Ukraine's partially ccupied Donetsk province
  • The Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organization, may be behind the killings, an official suggests
  • Several suspects have been detained in connection to the incident

A private military organization that has been linked to the Russian government may be behind the murder of a family of eight in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk province, according to a Ukrainian official.

The victims, who included four minors aged between 1 to 9 years old, were executed in the city of Makiivka at around 10:55 p.m. local time Monday, Vladislav Klyucharov, the head of the city's administration, told local outlet DAN.

Makiivka is currently under the control of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), a Russian-backed separatist state.

The deceased individuals were found in a private residence with gunshot wounds, Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing local authorities.

They were seemingly shot with automatic weapons, according to the administration.

The victims had bullet wounds to the head that were inflicted from a close range, Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the exiled mayor of the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol, also located in Donetsk, said in a statement.

Following a chase, law enforcement officers detained three previously convicted residents from the Kalininskyi district in connection to the killings, TASS, another Russian state-owned outlet, reported.

RIA Novosti reported that four people were detained.

The suspects "confessed that they committed the crime out of mercenary motives, in order to steal a car and valuable property," the DPR's Ministry of Internal Affairs claimed.

Klyucharov also stated that the aim of the attackers was robbery.

A Skoda was stolen from the yard of the home where the victims were found, according to the interior ministry.

However, security forces also reportedly discovered an AK-74 assault rifle, three magazines for the weapon and two grenades during a search of an apartment in Donetsk.

Andriushchenko suggested in a statement that "Wagner" could be behind the killings.

The Wagner Group is a paramilitary organization founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The mercenary company has been accused of committing war crimes in Ukraine, where it has been operating from since 2014, as well as Syria and Libya.

The suspects in Monday's incident could face capital punishment, according to the DPR's Ministry of Internal Affairs.

An investigation is underway, the ministry said.

Andriushchenko noted that the victims of the attack were part of the Romani or Roma people.

Members of the ethnic minority, who are sometimes called gypsies, a label considered by many Romani people as pejorative, have faced persecution in the past, including in the late Soviet Union.

Russia's ongoing invasion has reportedly brought new hardships to the Romani in Ukraine.

Russian troops have been accused of atrocities in areas around Kyiv, allegations Moscow denies
Russian troops have been accused of atrocities in areas around Kyiv, allegations Moscow denies AFP / Sergei SUPINSKY