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Deadly Blast in Russia-Annexed Crimea: What We Know
17 October, 2018

Update: As of October 18, 1 p.m. Kyiv time, the death toll has risen to 21 people. Crimea's so-called authorities say the Kerch polytechnic college will resume its work on October 22. 

Crimean medical center specializing in catastrophes reports that 19 people were killed and more than 40 injured after multiple shootings and an explosion have been reported inside a college in Russia-annexed Crimea. The incident was first treated as a terror attack but has now been reclassified as a murder.

 

According to Interfax, the number of people affected by the explosion currently stands at 54.

Ukrainian president's permanent representative in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Borys Babin, has expressed his condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

READ MORE: Crimea in Mourning: A Special Report from Kerch

"These are our nationals," he said in a comment to Hromadske adding that carrying out investigations is "impossible" in the occupied territory.

"We know they have some versions [of events] there already."

A channel on Russian messenger application Mash has published two photographs of the armed assailant at the time of the attack. An acquaintance of the teenager told Russian news site RBK that the attacker "really hated the college because of its evil teachers" and hinted that he would "take revenge on them."

Photo credit: Mash / Telegram

Russian news agency Interfax has stated, citing sources from Russia’s anti-terrorist committee, that the explosion was caused by an unidentified explosive device. In groups on the social media site Vkontakte, as well as speaking to local media, Kerch residents claim to have heard gunfire at the college and witnessed people with guns. 

Photo credit: Mash / Telegram

“I looked out of the office, and there was a boy walking around with a gun and shooting everyone. I then took cover in the hope that he would not hear me," describes the dreadful incident to Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda one student Semen Havrylov.

"After 10 minutes, the police arrived with guns. I don’t know what happened with the shooter. In the corridor, where the explosion happened, the windows had been knocked out. There were dead bodies on the floor." 

The Russian Investigative Committee has announced suspicions over an 18-year-old student at the same Kerch college named Vladislav Roslyakov. After carrying out the attack, he took his own life.

According to a channel on the Russian messenger app Mash, Roslyakov was officially licensed to use weapons and had allegedly bought a gun and bullets last week.

Some teens who knew the assailant have also commented on the Mash messenger app that the suspect was quiet and reserved. He had also allegedly expressed frustration with the teaching staff at the polytechnic college and hinted at wanting to seek revenge on them, one acquaintance of the suspected gunman told Russian news site RBK.

According to publication Daily Storm and the Mash messenger channel, Roslyakov’s father has been taken in for questioning.

Russian investigators stated that most of the victims were teenagers.

Local news agency Crimeainform stated that the victims have been taken to the local hospital in Kerch. According to the director of the Crimean medical center specializing in catastrophes Sergey Astankin, over 20 of those injured are in critical condition.

In a video from the scene published by the Russian federal channel REN TV, it’s clear that those affected were in the canteen of the college.

Five emergency service teams attended the scene of the incident. According to Kerch.fm, as of 12:25, there weren’t enough ambulances at the scene, and victims were taken to hospital on public transport.

Russia reportedly flew in 26 doctors to Kerch and a second flight is being prepared. The aircraft will be carrying medical equipment for evacuating victims. 

Eight of the 35 people injured are in critical condition, the so-called head of Crimea Serhiy Aksyonov stated. He cites information from the Investigative Committee and the anti-terrorist center, which reported that there were over 40 injured.

A second explosive device has reportedly been neutralized.

A three-day mourning period starting on October 18 has been announced in Crimea in relation to the incident. Ukrainian Border Service said that they tightened security on its administrative border with Crimea.

The Ukrainian Ombudsperson Lyudmila Denisova has urged her Russian counterpart Tatyana Moskalkova to go to the scene of the incident and help the victims.

“I have already spoken with Crimeans, they are very frightened. The families of the dead and wounded need psychological support and medical assistance,” Denisova wrote in a Facebook post, adding “I ask the Ombudsperson of the Russian Federation Tatyana Moskalkova to urgently go to Kerch. I am prepared to join her and do my best to help the families of the dead and wounded.”

She also stated that she has appealed to the United Nations and the Council of Europe regarding the Kerch college attack.

READ MORE: Crimean Community Still Reeling After Kerch College Rampage

The Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which has operated from Ukrainian-controlled territory since the peninsula’s annexation, have opened a criminal investigation into the attack under article 258 (on acts of terrorism) of the Ukrainian Criminal Code, deputy chief prosecutor Roman Murachov stated in a briefing.

Murachov also said that the Prosecutor’s Office is looking into all possible versions of events and will instruct the Ukrainian Security Services accordingly.

However, the investigation faces complications as the investigators are not allowed within the annexed territory of Crimea, Murachov added.  

/By Sofia Fedeczko and Maria Romanenko