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2 Dead, 51 Injured in IED Blasts at Kerala Christian Prayer; Group Member Claims Responsibility

Kerala Governor Arif Khan deems the incident 'shocking,' while Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan calls it 'extremely unfortunate' - reactions to the IED blasts.

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Oct 29 ( The Street Press) – On Sunday morning, two women lost their lives, and 51 people were injured, with some in critical condition, due to several explosions that occurred at a Christian religious event in a convention center near this port city. This tragic incident sent shockwaves throughout Kerala.

The explosions occurred at an international convention center in Kalamassery, where a large gathering of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a minority Christian group, had come together on the final day of their three-day prayer meeting.

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A few hours later, a man who claimed to be a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses surrendered to the police in Thrissur district of the state, confessing to carrying out the multiple blasts. In response, the police have filed a First Information Report (FIR) against unknown individuals under Sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), as well as under the Explosives Act and the anti-terrorism law known as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Later in the day, the state’s Health Minister, Veena George, provided an update. Out of the 51 injured, 30 were admitted to various hospitals in the state. Among them, 18 were in intensive care units (ICUs). Within this group, six individuals, including a 12-year-old child, were in critical condition. Tragically, three of them had sustained burns covering more than 90 percent of their bodies. Minister George mentioned that teams of plastic surgeons and general surgeons had been mobilized from Thrissur and Kottayam medical colleges to assist at Kalamassery Medical College.

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Additionally, a 14-member medical board has been formed to oversee the treatment of the injured.

Assistant Director General of Police (Law and Order), M R Ajith Kumar, informed reporters that a man named Dominic Martin had surrendered at Kodakara police station earlier in the day, confessing to being responsible for the explosions. According to the officer, the man provided evidence to support his statement, and the police are currently investigating both his claims and the reasons he provided for carrying out the act.

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Before surrendering to the police, the man shared a video message on a social media platform, where he took responsibility for the blasts and explained his motives. The video was broadcasted on several TV channels. In the video, he stated that he took this action because he believed the teachings of the organization were “seditious.” However, there has been no response from anyone within the organization regarding these allegations.

Simultaneously, an individual claiming to be a member of the religious group informed a TV channel that no such person was currently associated with their organization.

Martin went on to assert that he viewed Jehovah’s Witnesses and its ideology as a threat to the country, and he believed that their presence in the state needed to be eradicated. He claimed that he had previously urged the organization to rectify its teachings, but it had not been willing to make changes. “As I had no other option, I took this decision,” the man explained.

State Police Chief Shaik Darvesh Saheb, addressing reporters in Thiruvananthapuram, mentioned that the preliminary investigation indicated that an improvised explosive device (IED) was employed to carry out the explosions.

Jehovah’s Witnesses is a Christian religious group that originated in the United States of America in the 19th century.

The Director General of Police (DGP) provided an update, stating, “This morning, at around 9:40 am, there was an explosion at the Zamrah International Convention Centre in Kalamassery, resulting in one fatality and 36 individuals receiving treatment according to our information.” He mentioned that the incident was under investigation and that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) would be established once he reaches the site.

According to a police source, there were three explosions, with two being of significant intensity and the third having a lower intensity.

Regarding the use of tiffin boxes for packing the explosives, the source stated that it cannot be confirmed at this point, as multiple agencies, including the state anti-terrorism squad and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), were examining the blast site.

Before Dominic Martin’s surrender, the Director General of Police (DGP) had earlier stated that he could not provide a definitive statement at this stage, and only after further investigation could he confirm whether it was an act of terrorism.

The top police official emphasized that confirmation of the details would come after a thorough investigation. They are exploring all possible angles and are committed to identifying those responsible and taking strong action against them.

He also appealed to the public to maintain peace and remain calm, advising against the spread of provocative or hateful messages on social media. He emphasized that spreading such messages on social media would lead to severe consequences.

The incident has been described as “shocking” by Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and “extremely unfortunate” by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Governor Khan expressed his condolences in a social media post, saying, “Shocked to hear about the blast at a religious gathering at #Kalamassery, Ernakulam district, Kerala, killing one person and injuring over 20. Heartfelt condolences to the kin of the deceased and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured.”

Chief Minister Vijayan, addressing reporters in Delhi before the reports of the second death, called it an unfortunate incident. He informed that one person had lost their life, and two others were in serious condition. An investigation was underway, and further details would be available later. He stressed that the incident was being taken very seriously and had convened an all-party meeting on Monday in response to the blasts at the convention center.

CPI(M) State Secretary M V Govindan, who is in Delhi with Chief Minister Vijayan for some party programs, stated that any malicious actions intended to divert attention from the Palestine issue would be met with strong consequences.

He emphasized, “When Kerala stands united with the people of Palestine, any terrible action to divert attention from it will entail strict action. The government and all democratic persons will together condemn it.”

Additionally, Govindan mentioned that in the current context, the incident seemed to have political implications and appeared to be part of a terrorist act. He stressed the need for a thorough examination of this aspect.

Kerala Revenue Minister K Rajan urged everyone, including the media, not to take any actions or spread information based on misconceptions about the incident.

Eyewitnesses shared their harrowing experiences, describing the terrifying moments following the explosions that happened just minutes after attendees had closed their eyes to pray.

One elderly woman recounted her shocking experience, saying, “When I opened my eyes after hearing the first blast, all I saw was a fireball in front of me.”

The scene was chaotic. “Nothing…nothing more…just a fireball. Everybody ran, scattered here and there. It was a sprawling hall, and a large number of people were inside.” The distressed crowd included senior citizens, including women who had been part of the morning prayers.

A man in his 70s, his voice trembling, shared the shock of witnessing an explosion during the densely populated prayer convention. He mentioned that, in all his years of attending the convention, he had never witnessed anything like this before.

Television footage of the incident displayed a significant presence of fire rescue and police personnel as they worked to evacuate the site.

Disturbing images from inside the convention center shortly after the explosions revealed multiple fires within the hall. People, including children, could be heard screaming in fear. The video also showed individuals attempting to extinguish the fires amid scattered and broken chairs, many of which were on fire.

In the wake of the blasts, police and district administrations across the state were placed on high alert.

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Sk Sahiluddin
Sk Sahiluddin
Sk Sahiluddin is a seasoned journalist and media professional with a passion for delivering accurate and impactful news coverage to a global audience. As the Editor of The Street Press India, he plays a pivotal role in shaping the editorial direction and ensuring the highest journalistic standards are upheld.
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