American student can enter Israel, nation's top court rules

ABC News(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- An American student whom Israeli authorities had blocked from entering the country over her alleged political views was admitted into the country, following a ruling on Thursday from Israel's top court.

Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old graduate student from Florida, had been detained at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport for more than two weeks as she appealed a decision to deport her.

Israeli authorities allege that she called for a boycott of Israeli goods and that they could deny her entry under a recently-passed law.

Israel's High Court of Justice ruled in Alqasem's favor on Thursday, and her attorneys said she subsequently left the airport and entered Israel.

Her lawyers said they were heartened by the decision, which Israeli prosecutors said on Thursday that they would not appeal.

"The Supreme Court's decision is a victory for free speech, academic freedom, and the rule of law," her lawyers, Leora Bechor and Yotam Ben-Hillel, said in a statement. "Israel has the right to control its borders, but that right does not give the Ministry of Interior unchecked power to turn away anyone it deems unwanted."

They added that Alqasem's appeal "has ensured that no one else should be denied the right to enter Israel based on sloppy Google searches and dossiers by shadowy smear groups."

They called her case a "gross misapplication of the law."

For their part, Israeli officials expressed disappointment in the ruling.

"I am deeply saddened by the Supreme Court's decision, which indicates a lack of understanding of the methods of action of the BDS organizations, and damaged the State of Israel's ability to fight the boycott activists who harm all of us," said Gilad Erdan, Minister of Internal Security and Strategic Affairs, referring to her alleged support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, known as BDS, which advocates boycotts as a political tool to protest Israeli policies related to the Palestinian territories.

Alqasem had intended to study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which had joined her appeal. She had been held at Ben-Gurion Airport since she landed there on Oct. 2, pending her appeal.

A recently passed Israeli law allows authorities to ban entry to anyone it deems to have held a senior position in an organization publicly calling to boycott the State of Israel.

Alqasem is a former president of the University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine -- which an Israeli minister labeled an extremist organization -- and is from the Ft. Lauderdale area of Florida, according to the Associated Press.

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Russia investigates whether student who killed 20 in Crimean college 'mass murder' acted alone

iStock/Thinkstock(KERCH, Crimea) -- The death toll from a college shooting and bomb attack in Crimea has grown to 20, as a top Crimean official said authorities are searching for possible accomplices who may have helped a student carry out the massacre.

At least 42 who were injured remain hospitalized, six in a critical condition, according to authorities in the Black Sea city of Kerch, where the attack happened on Wednesday.

An 18 year-old student, Vladislav Rosylakov, has been identified by police as the attacker. Russian authorities had said Roslyakov acted alone at the school, but on Thursday, Crimea’s leader Sergey Aksyonov said he believed the student must have received help preparing for the attack.

"In the college he acted alone, but the task is to establish who prepared him for this crime," Aksyonov told reporters at the scene of the attack. "He could not, in my view, have carried out such prepared events alone."

Investigators are still trying to establish Roslyakov’s motive and suggested they are treating it as a school shooting similar to those that have plagued the United States. It was unclear to what extent Russian law enforcement shared Aksyonov's assessment.

Russian authorities initially thought the school shooting was a terrorist attack, before they reclassified it as "mass murder" after Roslyakov was identified. Security footage showed him entering the Kerch Polytechnic College, where he was a fourth-year student armed with a 12-gauge pump action shotgun and bags police said were filled with homemade grenades.

According to witnesses, Roslyakov began tossing the explosives into classrooms and opened fire. Police said a bomb packed with metal objects that was planted in the school also detonated. Roslyakov killed himself at the school after police arrived about 10 to 15 minutes later, police said.

The precise details of the attack remain unclear. Some accounts described a large bomb exploding, while others described only gunfire and grenades. Pictures from the scene published in Russian media showed a bag found at the school filled with what appear to be improvised explosives. Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said it had defused a second bomb at the school on Wednesday.

Russia’s health minster, Veronika Skvortsova, said that most of the people killed were hit by gunfire, but that doctors had also been removing metal objects from people injured by what she said was a powerful bomb.

"The children's muscles are all 'minced', basically, with small pieces of metal," Skvortsova told reporters in Kerch, "We have found nuts and metal balls in the liver, guts, and blood vessels of those whose internal organs were ruptured. This is how powerful the explosion was," she said, saying others had lost lower limbs.

Friends and relatives of Rolyakov, speaking to Russian and foreign media, have described him as a quiet, isolated young man from a troubled background, fascinated by guns.

Russia’s main state newspaper, Izvestia quoted a source close to the investigation who said Roslyakov’s father had told police during questioning that his son had broken off contact recently with one of his few close friends and that he had been aware of his son’s interest in weapons.

Gun laws are strict in Russia and civilians are permitted only to own hunting rifles and smoothbore shotguns, and have to undergo background checks. Roslyakov had obtained his gun license only around two months ago, local officials said. Security camera footage aired by the Russian channel Ren-TV, showed him buying shotgun shells in store four days before the shooting.

Ordinary Russians and authorities are struggling to come to terms with the attack in a part of the world where school shootings are practically unheard of. People in Crimea and at a war memorial dedicated to Kerch near the Kremlin in Moscow have laid red mourning flowers and soft toys at makeshift shrines.

The aftermath of the shooting, however, is also unfolding against Crimea’s unusual political backdrop. Russia seized control of Crimea in 2014 using unmarked troops and has since periodically accused Ukraine of dispatching saboteurs to blow up infrastructure on the peninsula.

Some in Russia suggested that the Kerch attack may have ties to Ukraine, though there is no evidence so far.

In one of Russia's leading newspaper, Kommersant, anonymous security officials said investigators were examining whether Roslyakov had links to nationalist groups in Ukraine, referring to another case in which Russian prosecutors alleged a young Ukrainian man, Pavel Grib, tried to persuade a Russian teenage girl in Sochi to place a bomb at her school.

Officials though appear to be mostly grappling with a phenomenon grimly familiar in the U.S. but all but unknown in Russia -- mass school shootings.

Wednesday's attack was the deadliest act of violence at a Russian school since the Beslan terrorist attack in 2004, when 333 people, many children, died after Chechen fighters seized a school.

In Crimea, officials said they would review security measures at schools. On Thursday, armed riot police were temporarily deployed to guard all schools on the peninsula.

At a forum in Sochi, President Vladimir Putin told an audience that the Kerch shooting was the "result of globalization."

"It all started with those tragic events in American schools," Putin said. "Young people with unstable minds create false heroes for themselves. It means we are not creating the necessary interesting and healthy content for young people. They have only this surrogate heroism and it leads to these sorts of tragedies."

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Mad cow disease strikes in Scotland; officials say no outbreak is imminent

iStock/Thinkstock(ABERDEENSHIRE, Scotland) -- A case of mad cow disease has been reported at a farm in Scotland.

Authorities have been quick to calm fears prompted by the outbreak of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) -- more widely-known as mad cow disease -- after movement restrictions were placed on animals at an unidentified farm in Aberdeenshire, meaning the animals cannot be moved to other farms.

“While it is important to stress that this is standard procedure until we have a clear understanding of the disease's origin, this is further proof that our surveillance system for detecting this type of disease is working,” Fergus Ewing, the Scottish government’s Rural Economy Secretary, said in a statement sent to ABC News.

Officials also stressed that consumers should not yet be worried by the case because the disease did not enter the human food chain.

Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Sheila Voas, said that “it was too early to tell where the disease came from,” but urged any farmers with concerns to immediately come forward and seek advice.

The disease was discovered in a routine check on the Aberdeenshire farm, in northeastern Scotland. As a standard practice, all cows over four years of age that die are tested for BSE, and if the test comes back positive, all the animal’s offspring are isolated and later destroyed to comply with European Union (EU) requirements.

An investigation has been launched by the Animal Health Agency.

In the 1990s, a mass outbreak of BSE resulted in a ten year ban instituted by the EU on importing British beef, which began in 1996. The industry had been worth more than $653 million a year before the ban, which was lifted in 2006, according to the BBC.

Mad cow disease reached its peak in the U.K. in 1992-3, when more than 100,000 confirmed cases of mad cow disease were reported, sparking widespread panic, according to The Guardian.

National Health Service guidelines state that mad cow disease is likely to cause Variant CJD, a rare and fatal condition that affects the brain, when infected meat is eaten by humans.

Dr. Jude Capper, an animal scientist and expert on U.K. livestock, told ABC News that the government has learned the lessons of thirty years ago.

“The BSE outbreak in the late [1980s] had a devastating impact on the UK cattle industry, yet it provided some extremely valuable insights into how to deal with future disease issues,” she said. “The UK veterinary service and cattle industry have many more mechanisms in place to identify, contain and control disease.”

“There are strict controls in place to protect consumers from the risk of BSE, including controls on animal feed, and removal of the parts of cattle most likely to carry BSE infectivity,” said Ian McWatt, the Director of Operations in Food Standards Scotland. “Consumers can be reassured that these important protection measures remain in place.”

In the U.S., the last verified case of mad cow disease was in Florida in August, according to Reuters.

This is the first case of BSE on U.K. soil since 2015, according to the BBC.

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South Korean president shares invitation to North Korea with Pope Francis

iStock/Thinkstock(VATICAN CITY) -- During a visit with Pope Francis at the Vatican, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shared a message from Kim Jong Un: Please come to North Korea.

Moon and the pope met behind closed doors in the Apostolic Palace, with South Korean priest Han Hyun-taek serving as an interpreter, shortly after noon local time.

After their meeting on Thursday, the office of the South Korean president said in a statement that a formal invitation to Pyongyang from Kim would follow the more informal message delivered by Moon.

"If the invitation comes, I will surely respond to it, and I can possibly go," the pope responded, according to the South Koreans.

Moon's seeking a papal endorsement of the continued efforts to achieve peace on the peninsula. The South Korean president also met with the Vatican’s chief diplomat, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to whom Moon reiterated his desire for a peaceful resolution.

Parolin on Wednesday celebrated with a "Mass for Peace" at St. Peter’s Basilica where the leaders prayed for the "gift of peace after years of tension and divisions," South Korean media reported.

Moon spoke at the end of the service, saying the prayers offered at the mass would be welcomed.

The South Korean president has helped spearhead an accelerated effort to normalize relations between the two Koreas, meeting with Kim three times this year, including at a summit in Pyongyang.

Kim told Moon during their most recent meeting that he wished for the pope to visit North Korea, according to the Blue House, South Korea's presidential office and residence.

The Vatican previously has said a papal trip to North Korea may first require the nation to incorporate changes such as allowing for freedom of religion.

The pope has visited South Korea, but no pontiff has ever been to North Korea, which has very few practicing Christians. Pope Francis also is planning to visit Japan early next year.

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US general was target of Taliban attack that killed 3 top Afghan officials, wounded 2 US soldiers

iStock/rThinkstock(KANDAHAR, Afghanistan) -- The three top Afghan government officials in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, were killed and two Americans wounded Thursday in an attack by a man wearing an Afghan military uniform.

Killed in the attack on Thursday were Kandahar's governor, Zalmai Wessa; its police chief, Gen. Abdul Raziq; and its intelligence chief, Abdul Mohmin. Kandahar Province is in the south of the country, bordering Pakistan.

Two Americans were wounded in the crossfire, a military service member and a civilian. A third person, a contractor who is not American, was also wounded. They were medically evacuated and are reported to be in stable condition.

The attack at the governor's compound in Kandahar occurred shortly after a meeting there attended by the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin Scott Miller. Miller was one his way to his helicopter when the attack occurred. He was uninjured in the incident.

The Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the incident, said Miller had been a target. But the head of Afghanistan's army, Gen. Mohammad Yaftali, said at a news conference that the target was the police chief, Raziq.

"There was a situation at the Kandahar palace today," said Col. David Butler, spokesman for U.S. Forces Afghanistan "Initial reports indicate Afghan officials were the targets."

"Initial reports also say the attacker is dead," said Butler.

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Missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi calls for 'free Arab society' in final column

iStock/Thinkstock(ISTANBUL) -- Missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi warned of increasing efforts to silence the media in the Middle East in a column he wrote just before he vanished earlier this month. The "final column" was published online Wednesday.

Karen Attiah, global opinions editor for The Washington Post, wrote that Khashoggi’s translator sent the article a day after the journalist disappeared while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and the government, was visiting the embassy to fill out for paperwork for his impending marriage. His future wife was waiting for him in the car outside.

Officials in Turkey believe Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate, but his death has not been confirmed. The Saudi government has denied any involvement.

“The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen,” Attiah wrote Wednesday. “This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post. “I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.”

The column was published in Thursday's paper.

Attiah said the article, titled “What the Arab world needs most is free expression,” was the perfect example of the writer’s “commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world,” a freedom she said he “apparently gave his life for.”

Khashoggi noted how some journalists were imprisoned for speaking out against Arab governments as leaders exercised an apparent “free rein” to silence the media.

“My dear friend, the prominent Saudi writer Saleh al-Shehi, wrote one of the most famous columns ever published in the Saudi press. He unfortunately is now serving an unwarranted five-year prison sentence for supposed comments contrary to the Saudi establishment,” Khashoggi wrote. “Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate. There was a time when journalists believed the Internet would liberate information from the censorship and control associated with print media.”

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who fled for the U.S. amid the rise of the crown prince, praised Tunisia as the only “free” nation in the Arab world and Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait as “partly free.”

“The rest of the countries in the Arab world are classified as ‘not free,’” he wrote. “A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change.

“Through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face,” he added.

President Donald Trump ordered Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance, but he seemed to side with Saudi Arabia's crown prince, who has denied responsibility.

“I just spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia, who denies any knowledge of what took place. The king firmly denied any knowledge of it,” Trump said Monday. “I don't want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers.”

The president was forced to address the issue again on Wednesday after his previous comments sparked backlash and questions about his ties to Saudi Arabia. When asked on Wednesday if he was covering up for bin Salman, Trump said: “No, not at all, I just want to find out what's happening.”

He said he expects to have more intelligence by the end of the week.`

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Friend of Jamal Khashoggi: Journalist 'killed in a very barbaric way,' according to Turkish officials -- In his first sit-down interview with U.S. media, a close friend of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist who disappeared after being seen entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago, described to ABC News what he'd been told in briefings by Turkish security officials.

"I talked with some Turkish government and security officials and they said Jamal was killed. I didn't know what to do. I really couldn't answer. Then I called a few colleagues, again security officials, trying to have them verify it, saying 'Is this really true?'" Turan Kislakci said Wednesday. "They said, 'Yes, Turan, and let's tell you even beyond that, he was killed in a very barbaric way.' I was shocked. They not only kill him in the consulate, but also in a barbaric way."

Khashoggi, who has written critically about the Saudi government, reportedly told his fiancée to call two people if he ever got into trouble. One of those individuals was his close friend Kislakci.

Khashoggi, who had been living in the U.S., was visiting the consulate on Oct. 2 to file paperwork for his wedding. He has not been seen since. Turkish officials allege Khashoggi was killed, which the Saudis have fiercely denied.

Turkish officials say 15 Saudis flew to Istanbul for just hours surrounding Khashoggi's disappearance, and they reportedly claim to have audio recordings of Khashoggi being interrogated and murdered.

When Kislakci was asked by ABC News about repeated claims that there is proof that Khashoggi was killed and that an audio recording exists, he said that security officials said they had audio.

"They said, 'We have audio on this. We know all the details about what transpired.' They said, 'We were able to access this the first day, and we have various other evidence on this,'" he said.

He said the tapes reveal that when Khashoggi walked into the consulate, he was given a document to sign but refused. He then was killed.

"I still want to wish and hope that he is alive and so on," Kislakci told ABC News. "Unfortunately, this kind of news which related with his killing in a barbaric way is coming out."

The New York Times reported that Turkish authorities said the audio tapes indicate Khashoggi was then beheaded and dismembered.

Kislakci said he didn't want to know the gruesome detail but he said he believes much of what has been reported is correct.

Turkish authorities say that Khashoggi's body was then taken to the official residency of the Saudi consul general. It's about a mile from the consular building. Turkish forensic investigators are said to be combing through the grounds.

Turkish officials released to a Turkish newspaper images of 15 Saudis that they say traveled to Istanbul the day that Khashoggi went missing. The New York Times said that among the Saudis named is an autopsy expert.

The Times also reported that several of the suspects have ties to the Saudi crown prince.

Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb was allegedly in Istanbul the day Khashoggi went missing. Mutreb was seen in Boston within a few feet of the crown prince in March. A month later, both of the men were seen in Houston and later that month they were seen traveling together in Madrid.

When asked Wednesday whether he was providing cover for the Saudis in Khashoggi's disappearance, President Donald Trump said: "No, not at all. I just want to find out what's happening."

He said that he expected to know who is at fault for Khashoggi’s alleged murder “by the end of the week.”

"With that being said, Saudi Arabia has been a very important ally of ours in the Middle East," Trump said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Turkish President Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu Wednesday but refused to express any doubt or skepticism about the legitimacy of a Saudi investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

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Three dead in Venezuela after widespread outage leaves hospitals without power

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Three people, including a newborn, have died in Venezuela after an hours-long power outage in 16 states left hospitals with no power, a persistent problem in what is already a struggling nation.

The explosion of an electrical transformer in the interior of Venezuela left most of the country without power on Monday and Tuesday, Luis Motta Dominguez, the Minister of Electric Energy, said in a video on Instagram.

Power outages in Venezuela have become common, with Venezuelans experiencing days-long blackouts that limit the ability of health professionals to care for patients. Hospitals have also struggled with a lack of medical supplies and medicine to treat those who enter their doors.

“This situation is lamentable because you feel a lot of impotence,” Hania Salazar, the president of the nursing association in the state of Zulia, told ABC News.

“How, as a human, as a health professional, can you treat a patient when you don’t have anything to offer them when you don’t know when the electricity will cut off,” Salazar said.

Salazar describes hospitals becoming large scale morgues.

“We have had patients die and before they die, they tell us ‘Don’t let me die, I don’t want to die, save me.’ Those are the words that echo in our ears and in our conscious,” Salazar said.

Venezuela, which sits in the world’s largest oil reserve, has been experiencing an economic crisis, with the IMF predicting inflation to reach 1,000,000 percent before the end of 2018. As a result, many Venezuelans are fleeing to neighboring South American countries, which have seen a 900 percent increase in Venezuelan migrants.

But for those who remain, access to food, medicine and basic goods remains a struggle.

In a 2018 survey conducted by three leading universities in Venezuela, 6 out of every 10 Venezuelans reported an average weight loss of 11 kilograms (24 pounds) over the last year. Nine out of 10 Venezuelans are unable to afford food for daily consumption, according to the survey.

In a special report by ABC News, a couple, Vanessa and Adolfo Posada, both teachers, said that they alternate meals so their son can eat.

“It pains me so much, being a professional and having no future, “ Vanessa told ABC. “There is no future here.”

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Meghan Markle makes homemade banana bread for Australian farmers on royal tour

Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty Images(LONDON) -- Meghan Markle has confirmed while on a royal tour of Australia that she's the type of guest anyone would like to invite over.

When the Duchess of Sussex, 37, visited a family-run farm in Dubbo, Australia, Wednesday, she did not arrive empty handed.

The duchess brought with her for tea a homemade loaf of banana bread that she reportedly made in the kitchen of the Admiralty House in Sydney, where she and Prince Harry are staying.

Meghan is known for her love of cooking. Prior to marrying Prince Harry, she ran a lifestyle website, The Tig, that featured recipes.

In her most high-profile, solo charitable endeavor as a member of Britain’s royal family, Meghan collaborated on a cookbook with a group of female survivors of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire.

"I have a lifelong interest in the story of food – where it comes from, why we embrace it and how it brings us together: The universal connection to community through the breaking of bread," Meghan wrote in the cookbook's foreword.

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Lone 18-year-old kills 19 people, many of them teens, in shooting and bomb attack at college, Russia says

iStock/Thinkstock(KERCH, Crimea) -- At least 19 people, many of them teenagers, were killed, and over 50 others were injured in a bomb and shooting attack at a college in Crimea that local officials said was carried out by a student.

Investigators said a lone 18-year-old student at the state polytechnic college entered the school on Wednesday afternoon armed with a gun and began shooting people and also setting off a bomb planted in the college's cafeteria, before killing himself.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, the equivalent of the FBI, said it believed the attacker was Vladislav Roslyakov, a fourth-year student at the college which is in the Black Sea city of Kerch on Crimea's east coast.

Roslyakov was captured on CCTV entering the college holding a gun shortly before the shooting began, said Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for the committee.

“His body was found in the school with a gunshot wound,” Petrenko said in a statement. “Judging by the picture of the crime, investigators believe the young man shot and killed people in the school before committing suicide.”

Russian authorities initially treated the incident as a terrorist attack. The Investigative Committee opened a criminal probe based around terror charges but later reclassified the case as one of “mass murder” after Roslyakov was identified.

Russia's National Terrorism Committee said investigators had later found a second explosive device in the school and disarmed it.

The death-toll for Wednesday's attack is currently 19, with 52 injured and being treated in hospital, the Centre for Medical Catastrophes and Emergencies, Sergey Astankin told the state TV channel, Russia 24.

The first indication of the attack were reports of an explosion at the college. Police said, that was a homemade bomb, packed with metal objects in the cafeteria. Inside, students who witnessed the attack said, the gunman had moved down a corridor shooting at anyone he saw.

Semyon Gavrilov, a student at the school told the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that he had looked out of a classroom and seen "a guy walking around with a rifle and shooting everyone."

Gavrilov said he shut himself in the room and about 10 minutes later police with assault rifles arrived. "In the corridor where the explosion went off the windows were broken. There were dead bodies sprawled around the floor. All the walls were charred," Gavrilov told the newspaper.

The school's director, Olga Grebennikova, said she had left the school about 5-10 minutes before the attack began.

“They were running, throwing plastic bags with explosives, then they were running with assault rifles — I don’t know with what — around the second floor, opening rooms and killing everyone they could find,” Grebennikova told KerchNet, a local Crimean television station shortly after the attack. “There are many corpses, lots of children,” Grebennikova said, starting to cry.

Videos shot by students on mobile phones during the attack have appeared in the Russian media. One, published by the popular messenger channel, Mash, showed students outside the college building first laughing when the bomb-blast appeared to go off and then growing quiet as they realise an explosion has happened and as gunshots can be heard from inside.

Roslyakov lived with his mother in Kerch. Local television news reports said she is a nurse and that she had been helping tend to the victims at the school, without knowing her son was behind the assault.

Sergey Aksyonov, the head of Crimea's regional government said on state television that Roslyakov had never been in trouble with police. "He never stood out for some kind of aggression, he sat quiet," Aksyonov said on the state channel, Russia 24.

A three-day mourning has been declared in Crimea. President Vladimir Putin, who was in Sochi meeting with the Egypt's president Abdel-Fattah el-Siss when the attack occurred, called it a "tragic event". "It's already clear this is a crime," Putin told reporters, saying the public would be informed of the results of the investigation once security services had completed it.

In the first minutes after the explosion, local authorities in Crimea-- which Russia seized control of from Ukraine in 2014-- responded as though it was a terror attack, and state television showed armored vehicles and heavily armed troops rushing towards the college. About 200 soldiers and 10 military vehicles were deployed to assist at the bomb site, TASS reported, citing local military officials.

Kerch is a well-known city in Crimea, the arrival point to the peninsula for ferries from Russia and now for a new 12-mile-long bridge built for $7 billion at Putin's order.

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