Three Russian soldiers have died after a strategic airbase housing Vladimir Putin's nuclear bomber planes was hit by a Ukrainian drone, Moscow has said.
Air defences shot down the drone near the Engels base but falling debris fatally wounded three technical staff, the defence ministry said, The Mirror reports.
Loud blasts were heard early on Monday at the airfield – around 500km (310 miles) north-east of Ukraine's border – which is used by the military's Tu-95 and Tu-160 nuclear missile-carrying planes.
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Three people were killed and four more hospitalised following the attack on military base in the Saratov region, Russian media reports.
No nuclear material is thought to have been involved in the explosion.
The blast is believed to have been the latest long-range kamikaze drone attack on the base by Volodymyr Zelensky's forces, with the nearest Ukrainian settlement located about 450 miles away.
The "incident" at the air base is hundreds of miles from the front line of the war in Ukraine.
Video footage showed bright flashes around the base as air raid sirens sounded throughout the area, with the sound of gunfire also heard.
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Russia's defence ministry says its air defences shot down the Ukrainian drone flying at low altitude at about 1.35am local time on Monday (10.35pm GMT Sunday).
Three Russian servicemen died of injuries caused by drone debris, it adds.
Saratov governor Roman Busargin expressed his condolences to the men's families and friends and said there was "absolutely no threat to residents" in the town of Engels itself.
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He added that "all stories about the evacuation from the city are blatant lies" created by people outside Russia, and warned citizens not to give details about the incident online or face possible prosecution.
Earlier this month Russia accused Ukraine of a similar attack on the airfield, home to strategic bombers.
Kyiv has never publicly claimed responsibility for attacks inside Russia and Ukrainian officials have described such incidents as "karma" for Putin's invasion.
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