Russian helicopter 'accidentally fires rocket near onlookers'

Media claimed the incident happened during war games - an account denied by officials

Russian helicopter 'accidentally fires rocket near onlookers'

File photo of helicopters during Zapad 2017. Image: Russian Military of Defence

A number of people were injured in western Russia after a military helicopter accidentally fired at least one rocket near a group of onlookers, according to media reports.

A number of Russian outlets suggested the incident happened during the Zapad 2017 military exercises.

Several videos online appeared to capture the incident and its aftermath, which involved a Ka-52 attack helicopter:

Different reports suggested between one and three people were injured in the incident, which also caused damage to a parked van.

RBC news agency reports that the injured people 'weren’t civilians', according to comments quoted by The Guardian.

Russia's Ministry of Defence, however, denied the suggestions that people were injured.

In a statement quoted by the state-run RT website, a spokesperson said: "All the reports on social media about a barrage of rockets hitting a crowd of journalist and a large number of casualties are either a deliberate provocation or someone’s personal stupidity."

It instead claimed the incident happened when one of the helicopter's targeting systems "erroneously locked on a wrong target".

The ministry confirmed that a truck was damaged, although insisted that nobody was hurt.

They also didn't reveal where or when the incident took place, and denied it took place during the ongoing war games.

Thousands of personnel are currently taking part in the Zapad 2017 exercise.

Authorities in Russia say observers from Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Norway have attended the war games, while Vladimir Putin visited the site on Monday.