The Russian national anti-terrorism committee said an “unidentified explosive device” detonated at the Kerch Polytechnic College’s cafeteria. The blast happened at around noon at the school, which is located on a peninsula between the Sea of Above and the Black Sea.
Crimea, internationally recognized as part of Ukraine, was annexed by Russia in 2014. Russia’s Investigative Committee opened a criminal investigation into what it said was an act of terrorism.
Russia’s state-run Tass news agency reported a student also opened fire at the school before killing himself. Officials said at least 19 were dead.
“The suspected attacker shot himself. He was a fourth-year student of that college. His body was found in the library on the second floor,” Crimean official Sergey Aksyonov said.
Aksyonov said the student acted alone.
The Investigative Committee identified the shooter as Vladislav Roslyakov.
Russian media initially reported it was a gas explosion, but the regional gas distribution company told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty it did not supply gas to the college.
The bomb squad from the Federal Security Service, Russia’s Interior Ministry, the National Guard and the Emergencies Ministry were investigating the attack.
Russian President Vladimir Putin offered “deep condolencesto those who lost their relatives and dear ones as a result of this explosion.”
Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014 after a controversial referendum, a move that was denounced by the United States and many European countries. Since then, some have complained that Russia has punished those who voiced opposition to the takeover through its judicial system and law enforcement.
Terrorist bombings were more frequent in Russia during the 1990s and early 2000s because of the separatist wars in Chechnya.