Tragedy Strikes Jehovah Witness Convention: Kerala Blast Claims One Life and Injures Over 40 in Suspected Terror Attack

Crisis unfolds at a Jehovah Witness Convention in Kerala, as a suspected terror attack leaves one dead and over 40 injured. Stay updated on this tragic incident and its implications.

Explosion at a convention center in Kalamassery, Ernakulam district of Kerala
A photo of a tragic incident at a convention center in Kalamassery, Ernakulam district of Kerala.

In a tragic incident at a convention center in Kalamassery, Ernakulam district of Kerala, one individual lost their life, while more than 40 others sustained injuries during what appears to be a suspected act of terrorism on a Sunday morning.

Kerala’s Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, reached out to Home Minister Amit Shah regarding the situation, noting that some of the injured individuals are in critical condition.

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Eyewitnesses reported multiple explosions occurring during a gathering known as the ‘Jehovah Witness’ Convention, which had drawn over 2,000 attendees. Early assessments strongly suggest this was a terror attack, possibly involving serial blasts. Responding to the incident, a bomb squad, forensics team, and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) swiftly arrived at the scene.

Assistant Commissioner ACP Thrikkakara, Baby PV, confirmed the unfortunate loss of one life and the injuries sustained by around 40 people, with some in critical condition. He emphasized that multiple explosions had taken place, dispelling any notion of a single blast. He stated, ‘All investigating agencies are present on-site, and the investigation is ongoing. The nature of these explosions, whether they were caused by a bomb blast, will become clear. We have one fatality, 40 injuries, with four to five individuals in critical condition. The situation is under control.’

While the preliminary investigation by the Kerala DGP hints at the use of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) for the explosions, there is also suspicion that an incendiary device may have been involved. The majority of critically injured individuals suffered burn injuries, leading investigators to consider the possibility of an ‘incendiary device.’ Unlike explosive devices, incendiary devices are designed to start fires instead of causing explosions.

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The ‘Jehovah Witnesses’ are a distinct Christian group who do not identify as Protestants. Their convention is an annual gathering, with ‘Regional Conventions’ being the highlight, usually spanning three days from Friday to Sunday. These conventions predominantly feature Bible-based talks, dramatizations, and videos related to their preaching work.

Intelligence sources of high regard have indicated that multiple explosions took place within a single hall, further bolstering the suspicion of a terrorist attack. The Jehovah Witness community is seen as a potential target due to their differences from other Christian groups and their relatively small size, making them more easily identifiable.

Regarding the individual who tragically lost her life in this incident, Kerala Minister VN Vasavan explained that she succumbed to injuries caused by the fire resulting from the blast. He further noted that the injured have been admitted to Aster Medcity, Rajagiri, and Sunrise hospitals in Kochi.

This explosion occurs amid an ongoing controversy surrounding the participation of a Hamas leader in an event in Kerala. Khaled Mashal, a founding member of Hamas politburo, virtually participated in and addressed a protest program organized by an Islamist group in the state against Israel’s conflict with the militant outfit. However, it is too early to establish a direct connection between this rally and today’s explosion.

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In response to the incident, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has criticized the Pinarayi Vijayan government, suggesting that the participation of a Hamas leader in the Kerala rally reflects a failure of governance. On the other hand, the event organizers have defended it as ‘nothing unusual.’

Meanwhile, Delhi has been placed on high alert following the Kerala blast incident. Security measures have been enhanced for all churches in Delhi as a precautionary step.

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