In a shocking incident, two women were killed and over 45 people injured in a series of powerful explosions at a packed Christian prayer hall in Kerala’s Kalamassery on Saturday. Three back-to-back blasts ripped through the meeting during prayer time, creating panic and a stampede as attendees scrambled to evacuate the smoke-filled hall. A 48-year-old man linked to the same denomination has since surrendered and claimed responsibility.
The tragic incident occurred around 9:30 AM at a convention center run by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination. The prayer meeting was attended by over 2000 devotees when the sudden explosions turned the religious gathering into a site of chaos, bloodshed and tragedy.
Multiple Explosions Rock Prayer Hall, Kill 2 and Injure 45
According to eyewitness accounts, the first powerful blast went off without warning around 9:35 AM, just as prayers were beginning. Two more explosions followed in quick succession within the jam-packed hall, creating plumes of smoke and sending attendees fleeing for safety.
At least 45 people have been hospitalized with injuries, 18 of whom are in the ICU. Five victims are reported to be in critical condition. Tragically, two women lost their lives in the incident.
Kerala Health Minister Veena George has directed all available medical personnel to report for duty to treat the injured. Kalamassery MP Hibi Eden told media that people were badly shaken by the sudden explosions and subsequent stampede out of the hall.
48-Year-Old Man Surrenders, Takes Responsibility
In a shocking development a few hours later, a 48-year-old man named Dominic Martin surrendered to the police and claimed responsibility for the attack. According to his statement, he is a member of the same Jehovah’s Witnesses group that had organized the prayer event.
His motives remain unclear, though police are interrogating him for more details. The blasts were strong enough to kill and injure many, but the quick evacuation plan saved many lives. Still, the attack has left Kerala and the country stunned at the violence unleashed on a peaceful prayer gathering.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condemned the blasts as unfortunate and said the situation will be dealt with seriously. The government has deployed heavy police presence at the site.
NIA Team Reaches Spot, Security Beefed Up Nationwide
Given the shocking nature of the explosions, the central government has dispatched a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team to take over the probe. The counter-terror agency has already begun collecting evidence from the blast site which has been completely cordoned off.
The NIA will look into all angles including examining explosive materials used in the bombs and cracking the supply chain. As per initial photos, the IEDs appear to have been placed hidden inside tiffin boxes and triggered remotely. Agencies are also probing any potential terror group involvement.
In the wake of the blasts, security has been enhanced across major cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Kerala has been placed on high alert with police vigilant against any potential follow-up attacks. The state government is taking the incident very seriously and determined to get to the bottom of the attack.
Shocking Visuals Emerge Showing Blast Aftermath
Several photos and videos have emerged on social media documenting the sheer terror and destruction unleashed inside the prayer hall. They show plumes of smoke billowing across the convention center as alarms blare in the background.
Scattered chairs and fire extinguishers are seen strewn across the floor at the site of the explosions. Attendees are visibly shell-shocked and children crying as they hastily make for exits. Some people attempt to put out small fires. One video shows the ceiling partially collapsed atop debris.
The visuals provide a small glimpse into the traumatic events that transpired when explosives ripped through a large crowd gathered peacefully in prayer. It is clear that a major tragedy was narrowly averted thanks to quick thinking and preparedness by organizers.
Investigation Underway, Kerala Remains on Edge
As the NIA investigation picks up speed, police are also probing the background of Dominic Martin and how the bombs made it inside the prayer hall. His statements have left many puzzled as a member of the same faith orchestrated an attack on his own religious gathering.
Kerala and the entire country remains shaken by the events in Kalamassery which have shattered the peace. Yet again, commune violence has struck striking fear into citizens. While Kerala has historically witnessed political clashes between left and right groups, explosives going off at a church is unprecedented.
The state remains on high alert until the motives and culprits behind the attack are brought to light. For now, the focus also remains on caring for the injured and enabling the community to heal from the traumatic events. As the probe advances, we will continue to provide updates and analysis on this developing story.
To read more on the rising tide of religious tensions in parts of India, see our investigative feature on communal faultlines widening ahead of elections in multiple states. We also invite you to explore our podcast series on the history of caste and faith-based politics in the southern state of Kerala. Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated as we report from the ground on growing social unrest and violence polarizing communities.