MOSCOW (AP) _ A Russian news agency's erroneous report that Russian forces had shot down a combat missile launched from northern Europe set off widespread but short-lived concern today.

The independent Interfax news agency later said its report was wrong, and the ``missile'' appeared to have been a Norwegian research rocket launched away from Russia.

Correcting its initial report, Interfax later said the missile was detected by three Russian radar stations within Norwegian territory.

In Oslo, the Norwegian Defense Ministry said a rocket was fired from its research center on Andoya, an island off northern Norway, but with a trajectory aimed away from Russia.

The Norwegian Space Center on Andoya regularly launches research rockets.

``I understand that the mission was successful,'' spokesman Runar Todok said.

Russian government and military officials immediately said they knew nothing about a missile shootdown.

But at a time when Russia's military is embroiled in a bloody war in Chechnya, the report raised immediate concern worldwide. Spokesmen for NATO, several European countries and President Clinton said they were looking into the report.