(Reuters) - The head of Russia's private military firm Wagner on Wednesday said his forces had achieved the complete "liberation" of the eastern Ukrainian mining town of Soledar, killing around 500 pro-Ukraine troops.
Minutes before, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had mocked earlier Russian claims to control part of the town and said fighting continued.
Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin on Tuesday announced his forces had control over Soledar but said battles were still raging in the city centre. On Wednesday, he made no mention of continuing clashes.
"I want to confirm the complete liberation and cleansing of the territory of Soledar from units of the Ukrainian army ... Ukrainian units that did not want to surrender were destroyed," he said in a statement.
Wagner forces "killed about 500 people. The whole city is littered with the corpses of Ukrainian soldiers."
(This story has been refiled to revise the headline and the first paragraph to change the word "liberated" to "liberation".)
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)