(Reuters) - Ukraine's GUR military intelligence agency said on Friday a Ukrainian drone attack had hit a Russian military base deep inside annexed Crimea, while residents reported casualties, explosions and a road closure.
Early on Friday, Russia reported one of the biggest coordinated Ukrainian air raids yet over Russian-controlled territory but said air defence systems had downed all 42 drones attacking Crimea before they could hit their targets.
Ukrainian intelligence officials said the attack struck Russia's 126th Coastal Defence Brigade based in Perevalnoye, a town more than 200 km (120 miles) from Ukraine-controlled territory.
"We confirm that there was a hit," said GUR spokesman Andriy Yusov, according to Ukrainian media outlet Liga.Net.
Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimea in 2014, declaring it Russian territory. The United States says it supports Ukrainian attacks on Russian military targets on the Black Sea peninsula of because it should be demilitarised.
"People - not only on the Ukrainian mainland but also in Crimea - need to remember and believe that our victory and their liberation are not far away," Ukraine's military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said of Friday's strike.
Perevalnoye residents, posting on the Telegram messaging app, reported hearing blasts from the military base and cited casualties.
Reuters could not independently verify the reports.
"Two people died on a firing range, one was taken to a hospital in a severe condition. This is information from above, from the firing range," said a user nicknamed Abdul Has, whose profile picture shows a man in camouflaged uniform.
Another user, Vlad the Local, said roughly one person was dead.
"Why was a gate to the military town closed?" user Julia Julia asked.
Another resident with the call sign Lis asked others not to disclose information.
"Residents of Perevalnoye, I strongly recommend - don't write here what happened and how," Lis wrote. "We help them to direct fire in the future with that."
(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova in New York; Editing by William Mallard)