Zapad 2017
Belarussian Mi-8 helicopters fly in formation during the Zapad-2017 war games outside Ruzhany REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

A helicopter participating in the ongoing Zapad 2017 war games in Russia is reported to have fired a missile toward civilians who might be a part of a camera crew of journalists.

According to a report by Moscow Times, two people were hospitalised with serious injuries after the incident. The helicopter is said to have fired the missile by mistake. It is reported that a technical glitch caused the incident.

Citing unnamed source online news portal reported that the glitch caused the missile to blast off on its own. The explosion burned down two cars and left two people in the hospital. A third person was left in shock after the blast.

The report says that the Russian military said that two attack helicopters simulated aerial reconnaissance and close air support missions during when this incident took place.

The incident reportedly took place near the Luzhsky range near St. Petersburg. It is being said that President Vladimir Putin visited the range on Monday this week.

Another Russian outlet Fontanka reported that the incident took place on the evening of 18 September. The report also mentioned a previous accident that took place on 7 September when a tank shell ricocheted into a shelter, killing 1 and injuring 5.

While the Russian government has said the war games will involve only about 12,700 soldiers in all, Germany has disputed this number and said there will be closer 100,000 troops involved.

"Anyone who doubts that only has to look at the high numbers of participating forces in the Zapad exercise: more than one hundred thousand," said German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

In February, the Baltic states had requested more Nato help ahead of the war games. Lithuania's Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis said Nato should be ready to tackle any provocations during Zapad.

"The presence of such a large number of troops next to our borders, of course, creates some risks. We will take counter-measures, including with our allies, to avoid any provocations," he had said.