A suspected bomb blast during a Christian prayer meeting in India’s southern state of Kerala killed one person and wounded 36 others, police said Sunday (29).
“At about 9.40 am (0410 GMT) approximately there was an explosion in Zamra International Convention Centre in which one person died and 36 are undergoing treatment,” director general of Police of Kerala Darvesh Saheb told reporters.
“We will find out who is behind this and take stringent action… preliminary investigation shows it was an IED (improvised explosive device) blast.”
More than 2,000 people were attending a three-day Jehovah’s Witnesses prayer meeting at a convention centre in Kalamassery near the port city of Kochi when the blast ripped through the crowd.
“We are examining all angles and will find out who is behind this,” Saheb added.
The Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported at least three “blasts”.
Ernakulam district collector N S K Umesh said of the injured, 10 people were admitted to the burns unit of the Kalamassery Medical College and of them two, suffering from over 50 per cent burns, have been shifted to another hospital.
Besides that, eight people were admitted in the general ward of the medical college and the remaining 18 were under observation in various other hospitals, he told reporters here.
He also said the identity of the woman who died in the incident is not yet known.
According to reports, Indian home minister Amit Shah on Sunday spoke to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and took stock of the situation following the blast.
Teams of the anti-terror force National Security Guard (NSG) and anti-terror probe agency National Investigation Agency (NIA) are being sent to Kerala following a directive of the home minister to assist the state government.
“The home minister spoke to the Kerala chief minister to take stock of the situation after the blast. The chief minister briefed the home minister about the incident,” a source said.
Around two percent of India’s 1.4 billion people are Christian, according to the last census.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are members of a US-based Christian evangelical movement, who are best known for knocking on doors around the world, bible in hand, trying to convert people to their beliefs.
The movement, which preaches non-violence and is politically neutral, has a long history of being persecuted.
It is a millennial faith, meaning its members believe that the end of the world is near and that God’s kingdom will soon rule over the earth.