Multiple People Killed After 'Explosive Device' Blows Up on College Campus in Crimea

At least 17 people have been killed and dozens injured after a blast ripped through a polytechnic college in the Crimean city of Kerch.

The state-run news agency TASS said that dozens had also been injured after the blast at the college on the eastern part of the peninsula around midday on Wednesday. The toll is expected to rise.

Sergei Aksenov, the Russia-backed leader of Crimea said that the suspect was a 18-year-old student at the college who killed himself at the scene.

Mash, a social media channel associated with the police, identified the student as Vladislav Roslyakov.

The site of a bomb blast at a college in the Crimean city of Kerch; at least 13 people have been killed in the explosion, while more than 50 have been injured. Photo by TASSTASS via Getty Images

One witness told The Independent that two men entered the building and that "one of them blew himself up, and the other left the school."

The Russian National Counterterrorism Committee (NAK) said that an unidentified explosive device caused the blast.

This is at odds, however, with the account of a woman Rain TV identified as the college director, Olga Grebennikova. She described how a group of unidentified people with machine guns broke into the school and began shooting.

"There are a lot of dead bodies, children, it's a real terror attack. They broke in 10 minutes after I left," she said.

"Someone broke in, shattered all the windows then threw some explosive packages and ran along with their machine guns...and they killed everyone they came across. A real terror attack just like in Beslan," she added, referring to the school siege in 2004 when militants killed over 300 people.

Her account has not been confirmed and she described events having arrived at the scene after the incident. The Crimean leader denied there had been shootings.

One witness told Kerch FM: "I was standing with my friends on the street and there was a huge bang, The windows of the second floor just fell out."

Semon Garilov, a student, told the publication Komsomolskaya Pravda: "I looked out of the office and I a guy with a weapon and he is shooting everyone… I left when everyone else was evacuated. There were bodies on the floor and all the walls were charred."

Sergei Melikov, first deputy head of the National Guard said that the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device.

Russia's Investigative Committee has opened a terrorism probe.The shrapnel-filled bomb went off in the cafeteria around lunchtime Irina Kluyeva, Crimea's ombudsman for children's issues, said, according to Interfax.

Images of the scene of the blast posted by local media outlet Kerch.FM showed that the ground floor windows of the two-storey polytechnic building were blown out.

Kerch is the entry point connecting Crimea with Russia and is the site of the controversial Kerch bridge which links the peninsula that Moscow illegally annexed in 2014.

The incident is likely to increase tension between the countries with Moscow in the past accusing Ukraine of acts of sabotage in Crimea.

A state of emergency has been declared and a three-day period of mourning announced by the Russian authorities who control the peninsula.

This story has been updated to include a different death toll. The age of the suspect, initially reported by agencies as 22, has been changed to 18.