October 30, 2023
KOCHI – Two persons were killed and six were critically wounded, while over 50 people were left injured in multiple explosions that took place at a convention centre in Kalamassery near Kochi during a prayer meeting of Jehovah Witnesses on Sunday morning.
A 48-year-old man, who identified himself as Dominic Martin, has claimed the responsibility of the serial blasts. He has reportedly surrendered before police in Thrissur.
The incident took place at the Zamra International Convention Centre at around 9.45 am. The condition of six of the injured is critical. The injured have been shifted to Kalamassery Medical College and Hospital. The preliminary information is that the deceased is a woman.
Kerala Police chief Dr Shaik Darvesh Saheb has confirmed that an IED (improvised explosive device) was used in triggering the blasts that took place in Kalamassery.
According to witnesses, the series of explosions occurred inside the convention hall at approximately 9.45 am. The first blast originated from the middle of the hall, followed by two simultaneous explosions on either side.
They said that the explosion originated from the centre of the hall and that the incident occurred during prayer time when people had their eyes closed.
The annual convention, which began on October 27 and was set to conclude on Sunday at noon, had approximately 2,400 registered attendees including women and children, from several places near Kochi.
The police have been put on high alert in the state in the wake of the explosion in Kalamassery. The district police chiefs have been instructed to be vigilant throughout the state.
The state anti-terrorist squad has reached Kalamassery. Kerala police have tightened security across the state after suspecting terrorist involvement in the IED blast at a prayer meeting of a religious group at a convention centre in Kalamassery
The Central government is also closely monitoring the situation and has sought information from the authorities. The preliminary report of the state police is awaited. The Centre has directed to examine the possibility of terrorist involvement in the blasts. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is likely to take over the probe, sources said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has directed the NIA and the National Security Guard (NSG) to initiate an inquiry into the incident. The Kochi Unit of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has already started a probe on the incident.
Health Minister Veena George instructed the Burns Treatment Expert Team to reach the Kalamassery Medical College Hospital immediately. Hospitals have been placed on high alert, and all healthcare personnel, including doctors, on leave, have been instructed to return promptly.
Additionally, orders have been issued to expand the capabilities of Kalamassery Medical College, Ernakulam General Hospital, and Kottayam Medical College.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the explosion in Kalamassery was an extremely unfortunate incident. He said that a detailed investigation should be conducted to ascertain the cause of the blast.
Kerala Health Minister Veena George on Sunday informed that 52 people were taken to various hospitals following the IED blast in Kalamassery.
Of them, the condition of six people including a 12-year-old child remains critical, she said. The identity of the woman who died in the incident has not been ascertained yet, Veena added.