Two people were injured when a helicopter gunship fired accidentally at onlookers at a testing ground visited by President Putin during military exercises, according to reports in Russian Federation. Both reports included a video purportedly showing the incident, which they said happened at an exercise at a firing range near St. Petersburg during the war games, known as Zapad-2017.
Fontanka, an independent news site, also posted video footage of the incident, which it said took place on Monday - the day the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, attended the Zapad drills. Four of Russia's new KA-52 attack helicopters rose above the tree line, hovering under the murk, punctuating an nearly continual stream of ordinance, that ended with a long column of T72 tanks driving forward.
The Russian military says its warships have test-fired cruise missiles in an exercise that comes along with weeklong war games held by Russia and Belarus. "The people who suffered are most likely journalists", the source said, according to the 66.ru report.
It instead claimed the incident happened when one of the helicopter's targeting systems "erroneously locked on a wrong target".
The helicopter drill was part of Zapad, a large-scale joint military exercise with Belarus taking place close to Russia's border with Estonia.
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Citing unnamed source online news portal 66.ru reported that the glitch caused the missile to blast off on its own.
A separate report, however, suggested there were three people injured, who were not civilians.
The Russian military was conducting exercises known as "West 2017", where they demonstrate their might to intimidate North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries.
The heavily armed Ka-52 helicopters took part in the grandiose demonstration watched by Putin on Monday, which included dozens of aircraft, artillery and tanks pretending to repel a NATO-like enemy.