Belgorod Regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov reported an explosion in the area of Razdobarkina Street in Belgorod on Saturday afternoon. The Telegram post said that five people were hospitalized, including three women and two men, while more than 30 houses and 10 cars were damaged. No mention was made of the cause.

The Russian Telegram channel RusNews said that Gladkov’s unusual reticence in blaming everything on Ukraine suggests the incident was yet another “own goal” by a Russian aircraft on its way to or from a bombing raid. The Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which is less than 40 kilometers away, has been the focus of relentless missile, drone and glide bomb attacks in recent weeks.

The Pepel (Ash) Telegram channel said that the absence of a missile alert prior to the incident, combined with the severity of the damage, strongly indicated that it was caused by “friendly fire” after a bomb was accidentally (or intentionally) jettisoned. The site later reported that there had been at least one fatality although the authorities had not confirmed this.

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There have been regular reports of Russian bombs falling on Belgorod and the surrounding region since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The Astra Russian news channel estimates than between March and April this year alone, as many as 20 aerial bombs fell in the border areas.

Astra said that Russian authorities are unable to give any answers as to the cause of these incidents. A report in a UK Ministry of Defence intelligence update in January considered the incidents were likely caused by a combination of inadequate training leading to faulty procedures for arming aircraft prior to flights, poor mission execution by aircrew, and crew fatigue.

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