At least 19 people are dead and are injured after a mass shooting and explosion at a vocational college in Russia-annexed Crimea.
The suspected gunman, eighteen-year-old student Vladislav Roslyakov, entered the school building in the city of Kerch on Thursday morning (AEST) carrying a firearm and began firing on fellow pupils before killing himself, Russian law enforcement officials said.
Officials who inspected the shooters body, which was found inside the college after, believe Roslyakov died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
Many of the victims were also teenage students who suffered shrapnel and bullet wounds.
Investigators have yet to determine a motive behind the attack.
Pupils and staff said the attack had started with an explosion, followed by more blasts, and a hail of gunfire.
Witness Igor Zakharevsky said he was near the college canteen when the shooting began.
“I was at the epicentre of the first explosion, at the entrance, near the buffet,” he told BBC News.
“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.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a moment’s silence for the victims.
“This is a clearly a crime,” he said. “The motives will be carefully investigated.”
Olga Grebennikova, the college’s director, told Crimean media outlets in an interview outside the college that the bodies of children were everywhere.
Troops with armoured personnel carriers were sent to the scene. Local parents were told to collect their children from the city’s schools and kindergartens for their safety.
However, the Investigative Committee, the state body that investigates major crimes, said later that it was re-classifying the case from terrorism to mass murder.
An employee at Kerch’s hospital said dozens of people were being treated for their injuries in the emergency room and in the operating theatre.
Photographs from the scene of the blast showed that the ground floor windows of the two-storey building had been blown out, and that debris was lying on the floor outside.
Emergency services teams have been carrying wounded people from the building on makeshift stretchers and loading them on to buses and ambulances.
Russian officials at first reported a gas explosion, then said an explosive device ripped through the college canteen at lunchtime in a suspected terrorist attack.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, prompting international condemnation and Western sanctions, but since then there have been no major outbreaks of violence there.