13 killed in Azerbaijan college shooting

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The Independent Online

Thirteen people were killed at a university in oil-producing Azerbaijan today when a gunman moving floor to floor opened fire on teachers and students after the bell rang for morning classes.

A police source said the gunman, a Georgian citizen of Azeri origin, was among the dead.

The government said it did not see a political motive behind the shooting at the State Oil Academy in Baku, capital of the mainly Muslim former Soviet republic which exports oil and gas to Europe from the Caspian Sea.

Witnesses said the shooting began shortly after the bell rang for classes to begin at 9am, with a gunman climbing the stairs and firing on each of the six floors.

"He climbed from the first floor to the sixth, shooting people mainly in the head from a Makarov pistol," a Russian-made semi-automatic pistol, the state prosecutor's office said.

It said 13 people were killed and 13 wounded. Photographs showed pools of blood on the steps to the university and paramdeic carrying out bodies in bags.

A witness said a student had approached the gunman shouting "Don't shoot, don't shoot!" before being shot in the head.

According to Azeri ANS television, the gunman shot dead a security guard and a cleaner as he entered the building, before opening fire on students and teachers. Two foreigners - from Syria and Sudan - were among the dead, a police source said.

Police found three ammunition belts and 71 bullets on the body of the gunman, reported to be 29 years old. Officials could not confirm how he died, but Azeri media reported he shot himself in the head.

A senior aide to President Ilham Aliyev said the motive did not appear to be political, Azeri Trend news agency reported. "Such incidents happen in many countries," Ali Hasanov said.

Media quoted Aliyev as saying: "We all share your grief in these hard days. The government of Azerbaijan will under take all measures regarding this incident."

Azerbaijan is a mainly Muslim but secular country of 8.3 million people on the shores of the Caspian Sea, where it holds vast reserves of oil and gas. BP is heavily involved in Azeri oil exports to Europe.