Crimea college bomb attack kills 18

The deadly explosion and reported 'armed rampage' was declared terrorist attack

At least 18 people have been killed and many more more than 50 wounded in a bomb explosion at a college in Crimea that one witness told local television also involved an attack by at least one armed gunman.

The bomb blast reportedly took place in the city of Kerch, which is the entry point for a new 19km bridge linking Crimea to Russia. 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. At least one attacker blew himself or herself up, the school director said. Later on the attacker that committed suicide was identified as a 22-year-old male student studying there.

“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. 

“There are a lot of bodies, a lot of bodies of children,” she continued, adding that the attackers “ran with automatic rifles...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 Russian national anti-terrorism committee, a government body, said the explosion at a polytechnic was caused by an “unidentified explosive device” and declared the assault a terrorist attack. 

Reports from witnesses quoted by local media suggested there may have been shooting and an attempt to take hostages prior to the explosion. Sergei Aksenov, the Russia-backed leader of Crimea, however told TASS that such reports were untrue, and said the situation on the scene was calm. He also announced three days of mourning for the victims.

The explosion is expected to attract intense scrutiny from Russian authorities as Crimea was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, and providing security to the peninsula has been a priority for Moscow.

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