Killed for corpses: Ukrainian funeral parlors ‘used grenade to settle business dispute’

© Shamil Zhumatov
One person was killed and two others injured when a grenade booby-trap detonated at the entrance of a morgue in central Ukraine. Police believe the crime was part of a turf war between funeral parlors.

The incident in the city of Krivoy Rog highlights the problem of violent crime that the troubled country suffers due to the inflow of illegal weapons from the military crackdown on the rebels in the east.

Local police said they are investigating the case as a premeditated murder. The three victims of the booby trap were involved in transportation of bodies and may have been conducting the business illegally, the statement said. Competitors may have been behind the attack, it added.

Reports of military explosives used in crimes committed far from the rebel-controlled east come virtually on a weekly basis in Ukraine. On July 30, a hand grenade was tossed into the yard of a house in Cherkassy in the center of the country. Luckily, the family living in it wasn’t hurt, but the blast damaged windows and the homeowner’s car.

The outcome was worse in a similar incident in the southern port of Odessa, where a guard was injured in a drive-by grenade attack that targeted the Libertine nightclub on July 20. He barely escaped the explosion by jumping behind a barrier. The incident was reported as a possible hate crime by local media, since Libertine is popular among Odessa’s gay community.

On July 2, an Odessa restaurant was seriously damaged by a powerful IED, which also shattered windows in a nearby café and apartments. The blast did not injure anyone.

People are also harmed accidentally by the weapons that are everywhere. On July 28, a 15-year-old boy found a hand grenade in the village of Nikolayevka in the Dnepropetrovsk Region and tried to disassemble it. The grenade blew up, seriously injuring the boy’s left hand and tearing off his middle finger, according to reports.

A similar incident happened on July 16 in Ivano-Frankovsk, in western Ukraine. A 34-year-old man with a reported criminal record wanted to show a hand grenade he had to his drinking buddies. They were reportedly skeptical that the explosive was real, and the man proved it by arming it and tossing under the sofa he was sitting on. He and a young woman were taken to hospital in the aftermath of the demonstration.

Ukraine has been flooded with illegal weapons coming from the east, where army troops and volunteer battalions remain locked in a standoff with rebel forces. Arms are poorly controlled and are regularly being smuggled by underpaid soldiers and officers.

On August 1, police in Dnepropetrovsk detained a group of five volunteer fighters, who were carrying a stash of arms from the east. They had two grenade launchers, four grenades and over 4,000 rounds of ammunition for assault and sniper rifles on them.

Commenting on the incident, a spokesman for the region’s Interior Ministry said many fighters take weapons “as souvenirs, to brag or to use for fishing.”