Crimea mourns victims of school massacre

Mourners at yesterday's public funeral for victims of a school shooting in Crimea.
Mourners at yesterday's public funeral for victims of a school shooting in Crimea.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KERCH (Crimea) • Mourners wept at a ceremony in Crimea yesterday for the 20 people killed in a school shooting dubbed the "Russian Columbine", the worst massacre of its kind in the country's history.

Two days earlier, 18-year-old Vladislav Roslyakov opened fire on his technical college in the city of Kerch before killing himself.

More than 40 others were injured in the attack.

"We don't want to talk, we want to weep. The history of Crimea will be divided into - before and after Oct 17," the leader of the Moscow-annexed peninsula Sergei Aksyonov told a crowd of hundreds at Kerch's central square.

"We need to be strong, we need to be brave," he said.

At the city's Lenin Square, tables covered in red cloth had been set up, each one bearing a photograph of a victim. Mr Aksyonov placed a red rose in front of each coffin at the ceremony, which was set to continue in a procession to the city's new cemetery.

Hundreds of students from the technical college where the attack took place were at the square, including an injured young woman in a wheelchair.

 
 
 
 

Security has been stepped up in the city of 150,000, which sits in the far east of Crimea and is where a recently-opened bridge links the Russian mainland to its newly annexed territory. All central roads have been closed.

Of those injured in the attack, a number remained in a "very serious condition", Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said.

Many of those hospitalised were injured by an explosion that blasted metal ball bearings and other items into their bodies. Six have been transferred to the Russian capital for further treatment, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.

Several media outlets have made a comparison with the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in the US, which left 13 people dead.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2018, with the headline 'Crimea mourns victims of school massacre'. Print Edition | Subscribe