Crimea college hit by deadly bomb blast in terror attack
At least 18 people have been killed and many more wounded at a college in Crimea after at least one attacker launched an assault using a gun and a homemade bomb.
Several witnesses described a gunman stalking the halls of the school and shooting students and teachers before detonating a bomb in the college’s cafeteria.
The attacker was an 18-year-old student of the college, Crimea’s regional head announced on television. The attacker, who carried a shotgun or rifle, killed himself at the site of the attack. The motive behind the attack was not immediately made public.
The Russian national anti-terrorism committee, a government body, said the explosion at a polytechnic was caused by an “unidentified explosive device”, according to Russia’s Tass state news agency. Bodies examined at the college had been killed by gunshots, the committee said. The committee also said there could have been more than one attacker.
Law enforcement officers at the site of a bomb blast at the college.
The assault took place in the city of Kerch, which is the entry point for a new 19km bridge linking Crimea to Russia. Its location will heighten scrutiny from Russian authorities, which are already concerned about terror attacks. Crimea was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, and providing security to the peninsula has been a priority for Moscow.
On local television, the head of the college described an armed rampage with attackers gunning down pupils and teachers, leaving bodies strewn throughout the building.
“It was a real terrorist attack, like in Beslan,” the school director, Olga Grebennikova, said, referring to the 2004 terror attack that left more than 330 dead.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said the explosive device was laced with metal strips that acted as shrapnel when it was detonated. The body first declared the assault a terrorist attack, but later requalified it as a “mass killing,” perhaps pointing away from any political motive for the attack.
“There are a lot of bodies, a lot of bodies of children,” she said in the video, which was posted to the news site KerchNet. The attackers “ran with automatic rifles, I don’t know what they were, on the second floor, opening offices and killing everyone they could find”.
“I would also be a corpse,” she said. “Because all of my people were shot to death. Kids and employees were killed.”
The committee said early estimates suggested that 10 people had been killed and more than 50 wounded in the explosion, which happened in the college cafeteria.
Reports from witnesses quoted by local media suggested there may have been shooting and an attempt to take hostages prior to the explosion. Police have so far not commented on the incident. Russian media first reported the blast as the result of a gas explosion.