'Russian missile sunk the Kursk' says newspaper

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The Independent Online

The Russian submarine Kursk was sunk by a guided missile from a friendly warship, according to a German newspaper which claimed to have learned the news from Moscow intelligence sources.

The Russian submarine Kursk was sunk by a guided missile from a friendly warship, according to a German newspaper which claimed to have learned the news from Moscow intelligence sources.

The report has been vehemently denied by the Russian authorities.

The Berliner Zeitung claimed that FSB chief Nikolai Patruschev had briefed Russian President Vladimir Putin that a "Granit" missile was fired by the Russian warship Peter the Great as part of the exercise that both vessels were involved in.

The newspaper said that both Admiral Vyacheslav Popov, the head of the Northern Fleet, and his chief of staff, Vice-Admiral Mikhail Mozak, were on board the warship when the accident happened on August 12.

There was no suggestion that the Russians know why the missile hit the Kursk, but the newspaper speculated that it could have been due to an error in a new weapon system or because the Kursk was not recognised as a friendly craft.

The paper said that two explosions caused by the missile were visible from the bridge of the Peter the Great.

Russia has claimed since the incident that a foreign submarine may have sunk the Kursk in a collision, killing all 118 people on board.

The FSB in Moscow has not commented on the Berliner Zeitung report.

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