Serial blasts at Christian prayer meeting in Kerala

Serial blasts at Christian prayer meeting in Kerala

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Serial blasts at Christian prayer meeting in Kerala

People who were present at the convention centre told the media that the first blast occurred in the middle of a prayer

A bomb blast took place during a Jehovah’s Witnesses convention at the centre in Kalamassery, 10 kilometres from Kochi. The meet was attended by nearly 2,000 people.

People who were present at the convention centre told the media that the first blast occurred in the middle of a prayer. Officials said explosives had been placed inside a tiffin box.

One woman was killed and 45 were injured in a series of blasts at the convention centre in Kalamassery. At least three blasts were reported within minutes after the prayer meeting started.

Mr Hibi Eden Kalamassery MP, said that the first explosion occurred in the centre of the hall. He added that the group had an evacuation plan which kicked into action immediately after the first blast.

“Luckily, they had an evacuation plan. Every time the group meets, they discuss and prepare an evacuation plan. But there was a lot of smoke, which led to a stampede,” said Mr Eden.

Hours after the blasts, a 48-year-old man claimed responsibility and has surrendered. The suspect, Dominic Martin, has claimed that he belongs to the same Christian denomination that organised the prayer meet.

Police said 45 injured persons were undergoing treatment in various hospitals in the district, of which 18 people are in the ICU. Five people injured in the blast are in a critical condition.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan termed the blasts as ‘unfortunate’ and said that the situation is being viewed seriously. All senior police officials in the state are on their way to the blast site.

The blasts will now be probed by the National Investigation Agency, which specialises in counter-terrorism operations. The agency’s forensic team has already reached the spot and is collecting evidence.

Visuals of the incident showed fire rescue and police personnel in large numbers evacuating people from the site, which has now been cordoned off. Disturbing videos from inside the convention centre showed multiple fires inside the hall as people and children were heard screaming in fear.

Hundreds of people were seen outside the convention centre post the explosion. Kerala Health Minister Veena George has directed all healthcare workers to report for duty in the wake of the blast.

Post this incident Security has been tightened in the national capital and Mumbai.