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Evidence suggests errant Ukrainian missile hit busy market - New York Times

KYIV (Reuters) -Evidence suggests a deadly explosion at a busy market in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kostiantynivka this month was caused by an errant missile fired by Ukraine, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Ukraine has said the Sept. 6 blast, which killed at least 16 people, was caused by a Russian missile.

"Evidence collected and analyzed by The New York Times, including missile fragments, satellite imagery, witness accounts and social media posts, strongly suggests the catastrophic strike was the result of an errant Ukrainian air defense missile fired by a Buk launch system," the newspaper reported.

Reuters could not independently verify the report.

The press service of Ukraine's SBU security service, asked about the report, said that according to an investigation still underway, the Russians were responsible for the strike, which it said had involved a Russian S-300 missile system.

"This is evidenced, in particular, by the identified missile fragments recovered at the scene of the tragedy," it said, adding that the investigation was also examining other materials that pointed to Russian involvement in the shelling.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said the circumstances were being studied by law enforcement agencies and that "the legal truth will be established".

'CONSPIRACY THEORIES'

He added that the publication of foreign media reports raising "doubts about Russia's involvement in the attack... entails the growth of conspiracy theories" and would require examination by the investigative authorities.

"In the meantime, we must not forget: it was Russia that launched the invasion of Ukraine and it is Russia that is responsible for bringing war to our country," he said.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Tuesday described the Sept. 6 blast as "a Ukrainian attack on its own city".

The New York Times report said security camera footage showed the missile flew into Kostiantynivka from the direction of Ukrainian-held territory, not from behind Russian lines.

It said that minutes before the strike, Ukraine had launched two surface-to-air missiles towards the front line from the town of Druzhkivka, 10 miles (16 km) northwest of Kostiantynivka, and quoted a witness as saying they went in the direction of Kostiantynivka.

Holes caused by the explosion and fragments at the scene were consistent with the 9M38 missile fired by the mobile Buk anti-aircraft vehicle, it said. The Buk system is used both by Ukraine and Russia.

(Reporting by Anna Pruchnicka, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Gareth Jones)