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Two individuals killed in an IED attack on a gathering in Kerala

Two people lost their lives, and more than 50 individuals sustained injuries in a bomb blast that occurred during a gathering of Jehovah's Witnesses in Kerala. A man who identified himself as a member of the group surrendered to the police, confessing to the responsibility for the attack. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and National Security Guard (NSG) are actively conducting an investigation into this incident.

By: Team Pardaphash  Pardaphash Group
Two individuals killed in an IED attack on a gathering in Kerala

Two individuals tragically lost their lives, and over 50 people were injured in a devastating bomb explosion that occurred during a Jehovah’s Witnesses gathering at a private convention center in Kalamassery town, Kerala, on a Sunday morning. This incident sent shockwaves throughout the state and prompted authorities nationwide to heighten their vigilance.

Shortly after the attack, a man named Dominic Martin, who claimed affiliation with the religious group but expressed anger over certain teachings, confessed to orchestrating the explosion, which was triggered by an improvised explosive device (IED). He voluntarily surrendered at the Kodakara police station.

Promptly responding to the situation, teams from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the National Security Guard (NSG) arrived at the scene following orders from Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who also engaged in conversation with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and assured the state of full support.

The blast occurred around 9:30 am, as approximately 2,500 people were engaged in prayer. Survivors described loud explosions and a terrifying “fireball” engulfing the center, with smoke quickly filling the space, causing panic as people scrambled to safety.

Attendees at the event mentioned that this Sunday marked the final day of a three-day zonal conference at the Zamra International Convention Centre and Exhibition Centre. This annual gathering typically features prayers, talks, and symposiums, with this year’s theme being “kshama,” meaning patience.

One witness, VK Michael, recounted, “We start meetings with a prayer. On Sunday, we stood up and closed our eyes, but barely a minute in, there was a loud explosion from the middle of the hall, near the spot where the audio console was kept. Within seconds, there was another sound of an explosion. I could see fire and smoke going up in the air just five rows of chairs ahead of me.”

The immediate aftermath was marked by shock and confusion, as chairs caught fire and individuals sought to escape the spreading flames. An anonymous woman shared, “The entire hall quickly became filled with smoke that made it difficult for people, especially the elderly, to breathe. We somehow managed to rush out.”

The injured were swiftly transported to the Government Medical College Hospital in Kalamassery, located two kilometers away. Kerala Health Minister Veena George, after visiting the blast site and hospitals, stated, “A total of 52 people sought treatment in connection with the blasts, out of which 17 are admitted to the intensive care units (ICU) of various hospitals. Five of them, including a 12-year-old child, are critical.”

Among the deceased, one has been identified as Kumari (53), who was being treated at the government medical college but succumbed to 90% burns. The other victim, closest to the explosion, perished on the spot, their body charred beyond immediate recognition.

Preliminary investigations into the blast site suggest that a timer-based low-intensity IED was used to target the congregation, as investigators have noted. An NIA team, led by the Superintendent of Police (SP), is expected to assume control of the investigation shortly. While batteries and wires indicate the use of a timer, a forensic examination will determine the specific type of explosive used. Authorities have confirmed there was no shrapnel designed to maximize impact, but the IED was placed near an oil container to intensify the resulting fire.

Hours after the explosion, Dominic Martin claimed responsibility for the attack, asserting his membership in the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

An anonymous senior police officer disclosed, “Dominic Martin, who claimed responsibility for the blast, is the main accused. We are questioning him, and he is likely to be arrested on Monday.”

“He claimed to be a member of the sect and submitted some evidence of his involvement in the blast. We are examining it,” added MR Ajith Kumar, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order).

Simultaneously, the police filed a preliminary FIR, without naming a suspect, under sections 302 and 307 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 3(A) of the Explosive Substances Act, sections 1908 and 16 (1)(a) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (Amendment 2012).

Before his surrender, Martin also posted a video on Facebook claiming responsibility for the attack.

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