Helicopter mistakenly fires on parked vehicles in Russia war games: media

MOSCOW, Sept 19 (Reuters) - A military helicopter on a rural training exercise in western Russia mistakenly fired rockets at a group of parked vehicles, knocking at least one person to the ground, footage posted by Russian news sites and on social media showed.

A video clip published on Tuesday by the independent news site Fontanka.ru showed a helicopter firing a salvo of rockets at a military truck covered in camouflage netting in open countryside, with three vehicles with no military markings visible, parked a few meters away.

A man in civilian clothes who had been standing close to the truck was engulfed in a cloud of dust. The person filming the clip, who was slightly further away, could be seen sprawled on the ground.

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Zapad 2017 war games
Crew members operate a Belarussian Mi-8 helicopter during the Zapad-2017 war games, held by Russian and Belarussian servicemen, outside the town of Ruzhany in Belarus, September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
A Belarusian army air defence missile system is seen during the Zapad 2017 war games near the village of Volka, Belarus September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Grits/Pool
Belarusian military helicopters fly during the Zapad 2017 war games near the village of Volka, Belarus September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Grits/Pool
Russian President Vladimir Putin uses a pair of binoculars while watching the Zapad-2017 war games, held by Russian and Belarussian servicemen, with Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov seen nearby, at a military training ground in the Leningrad region, Russia September 18, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A Belarussian Mi-8 helicopter flies above a firing range during the Zapad-2017 war games, held by Russian and Belarussian servicemen, outside the town of Ruzhany in Belarus, September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
A parachuter descends before landing at a firing range during the Zapad-2017 war games, held by Russian and Belarussian servicemen, outside the town of Ruzhany in Belarus, September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
(R-L, front) Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, President Vladimir Putin and Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov visit a military training ground to watch the Zapad-2017 war games, held by Russian and Belarussian servicemen, in the Leningrad region, Russia September 18, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Belarusian military vehicles drive during the Zapad 2017 war games near the village of Volka, Belarus September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Grits/Pool
A Belarussian Mi-8 helicopter transports participants of the Zapad-2017 war games, held by Russian and Belarussian servicemen, above a firing range outside the town of Ruzhany in Belarus, September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
Belarusian military vehicles drive during the Zapad 2017 war games near the village of Volka, Belarus September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Grits/Pool
Belarusian military jets fly during the Zapad 2017 war games near the village of Volka, Belarus September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Grits/Pool
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov (C) watch the Zapad-2017 war games, held by Russian and Belarussian servicemen, at a military training ground in the Leningrad region, Russia September 18, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Belarusian military jets fly during the Zapad 2017 war games near the village of Volka, Belarus September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Grits/Pool
Russian President Vladimir Putin uses a pair of binoculars while watching the Zapad-2017 war games, held by Russian and Belarussian servicemen, with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) seen nearby, at a military training ground in the Leningrad region, Russia September 18, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Smoke rises at a firing range during the Zapad-2017 war games, held by Russian and Belarussian servicemen, outside the town of Ruzhany in Belarus, September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
Russian President Vladimir Putin uses a pair of binoculars while watching the Zapad-2017 war games, held by Russian and Belarussian servicemen, with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (2nd L) seen nearby, at a military training ground in the Leningrad region, Russia September 18, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Belarussian Mi-8 helicopters fly in formation above a firing range during the Zapad-2017 war games, held by Russian and Belarussian servicemen, outside the town of Ruzhany in Belarus, September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
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Russia is currently staging the "Zapad 2017" war games in the area, major exercises on NATO's eastern flank that were inspected on Monday by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Fontanka.ru said the incident occurred on Sept. 18 and left one person with concussion. It did not give details on the source of the video.

A second video from the same location, which was posted on social media by Russian investigative bloggers Conflict Intelligence Team, showed the aftermath, including a smashed window in a white jeep nearest to the truck, and shrapnel damage to the military truck.

Reuters could not independently verify the videos.

The Russian Defence Ministry's western military district, in a statement cited by Interfax news agency, said that during a training exercise a helicopter's targeting system had mistakenly acquired a target, but denied anyone had been injured.

The representative cited by Interfax did not say when the incident happened, or where, or if the exercise was part of the "Zapad-2017" war games.

"As a result of a strike by an unguided rocket, a cargo vehicle with no people on board was damaged," Interfax quoted a representative of the military district as saying.

The Western military district includes north-western Russia and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, all areas where the "Zapad-2017" exercises are focused.

Russia's defense ministry in Moscow did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Asked by reporters about the incident, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov referred questions to the defense ministry.

(Reporting by Maria Vasilyeva and Christian Lowe; Editing by Dmitry Solovyov and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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