At least 17 people were killed when a gunman burst into a college in the Black Sea region of Crimea, set off a bomb in the cafeteria, and went through the building shooting anyone they saw, officials and the college’s director have said.
- Officials said a 18-year-old male student was behind the attack
- An explosive device full of metal objects was set off in the cafeteria
- Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine four years ago
Eighteen-year-old Vladislav Roslyakov turned up at the college in the city of Kerch on Wednesday afternoon carrying a firearm and then began shooting, investigators said.
His body was later found in the college with what they said were self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters in Moscow that investigators were trying to work out the motive for a fatal attack.
“This is clearly a crime,” Mr Putin said. “The motives will be carefully investigated.”
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, prompting international condemnation and Western sanctions, but since then there have been no major outbreaks of violence there.
Many of the victims from Wednesday’s attacks were teenage students who suffered shrapnel and bullet wounds.
Soon after the attack, Russian officials said they were investigating the possibility that it was terrorism.
However, the Investigative Committee, the state body that investigates major crimes, said later that it was re-classifying the case from terrorism to mass murder.
Officials had previously given the death toll as 18, but the Committee revised that to 17 killed.
Troops with armoured personnel carriers were sent to the scene, and local parents were told to collect their children from the city’s schools and kindergartens for their safety.
‘Bodies of children everywhere’
Olga Grebennikova, the college’s director, told Crimean media outlets in an interview outside the college that the bodies of children were everywhere.
The college is for students who have left high school and are studying for a technical trade. Students as young as 14 attend.
The Investigative Committee said initial information was that an explosive device packed with metal objects had gone off in the cafeteria of the college.
An employee at Kerch’s hospital said dozens of people were being treated for their injuries in the emergency room and in the operating theatre.
Anastasia Yenshina, a 15-year-old student at the college, said she was in a toilet on the ground floor of the building with some friends when she heard the sound of an explosion.
“I came out and there was dust and smoke, I couldn’t understand, I’d been deafened,” she said.
“Everyone started running. I did not know what to do. Then they told us to leave the building through the gymnasium.”
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said four military planes were ready to evacuate casualties for medical treatment, the Interfax news agency reported.
Mr Shoigu was also cited as saying that space in military hospitals in Crimea was available for the victims.
Photographs from the scene of the blast posted by local media outlet Kerch.FM showed that the ground floor windows of the two-storey building had been blown out, and that debris was lying on the floor outside.
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