Crimea attack: Kerch students left with horrific bomb injuries

Makeshift shrine at Kerch college, 18 Oct 18Image copyright

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Shocked mourners gathered at a makeshift shrine at the college

Students have been left with horrific injuries after a bomb went off at a college in Crimea and a gunman killed 20 people with a rifle.

The killer has been named as Vladislav Roslyakov by Russia, which annexed Crimea in 2014.

Fifteen fellow students and five teachers died at Kerch technical college. Ten victims are in intensive care; some have had limbs amputated.

Roslyakov, 18, shot himself after his rampage, reports say.

Crimea’s Russian-backed leader, Sergei Aksyonov, said on Thursday that the gunman had acted alone but must have had help in advance. “The way me and my colleagues see it, the preparations could not have been done by this villain on his own,” he said.

The number of fatalities rose on Thursday, when a teenage girl died of her injuries.

‘People have lost limbs’

A huge nail-bomb blast ripped through the college’s cafeteria, before the killer stormed through the building, shooting people at close range with a hunting rifle.

Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said the explosion from a home-made device had showered people with shrapnel. “Some victims’ internal organs were ruptured, we’re finding washers and ball bearings in their livers, intestines, blood vessels.”

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Media captionEmergency crews respond to the attack

“Limbs have been amputated – people have lost feet and shins,” she said. Russian media put the total number of wounded at 74.

Some of the critically injured were being transferred to hospitals as far away as Moscow.

The authorities in Crimea declared three days of mourning, and flowers are being left at a makeshift shrine at the scene.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine was condemned by many Western powers. It marked the start of a conflict pitting Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine against Ukrainian government forces.

What happened at the college?

The perpetrator is said to have run from room to room as he fired. Minutes earlier he had left a rucksack containing the nail-bomb in the cafeteria on the ground floor and detonated it remotely, Russian Channel One TV reported.

Photos later emerged in Russian media purportedly showing his body in the college library.

The TV report described a scene of devastation and mass panic after the blast. It said doors and windows were shattered in the entrance hall and on the first floor, above the cafeteria. Some students leapt out of the building from a height of five metres (16.4ft).

Investigators later said they found a second explosive device among the gunman’s possessions and that it had been disarmed.

BBC Russian spoke to witnesses, including Igor Zakharevsky, who was in the canteen when the gunman struck.

“I was at the epicentre of the first explosion, at the entrance, near the buffet,” he said.

“I was in complete shock and one of my classmates started pulling me away. Then I heard several shots at intervals of two or three seconds. After a while there was another explosion.”

A businessman near the college described hearing an explosion and seeing a large window shatter.

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The incident was earlier described as a “terrorist act”, but Russia’s investigative committee later reclassified it as “mass murder”.

President Vladimir Putin said the attack was a “tragic event” and expressed condolences to the victims’ relatives.

Spate of attacks

By Steve Rosenberg, BBC News, Moscow

Until now, if you had told people in Crimea there had been a mass school shooting, most would have thought you were talking about the United States. Now all that has changed.

The shooting spree in the Kerch Polytechnic has left the peninsula, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, in shock. But should it come as such a surprise?

There have been five attacks in schools in Russia this year where a number of children were injured.

In Kerch, questions are already being asked: how did Vladislav Roslyakov manage to obtain a licence for a hunting weapon? And how was he able to launch such a deadly attack on his college?

What do we know about the alleged gunman?

His precise motives remain unclear.

But there are suggestions the fourth-year student had developed a hostile attitude to the college.

Russia’s RBC TV interviewed a friend who said Roslyakov “hated the technical school very much” and had vowed “revenge” on his teachers.

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Russian soldiers were deployed outside the school

It has emerged that he obtained a gun licence when he was 17. His parents are divorced.

Classmates said Roslyakov was very reserved, hardly communicated with anyone, and had long ago stopped using social networks.

College teacher Olga Mikhailichenko said he was “a hard-working student, very quiet”.

The college prepares students for engineering jobs and is reportedly well-equipped. But some students spoke of lax security there.

What is the political situation in Crimea?

The peninsula remains a flashpoint between Russia and Ukraine.

Kerch is situated at the point where Russia built a new bridge joining Crimea to Russia.

In a reminder of how poor relations are between Russia and Ukraine, the speaker of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, suggested Kiev might have been behind the attack.

“The entire evil inflicted on the land of Crimea is coming from the official Ukrainian authorities”, he said.

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