- The explosion hit a convention centre in the southern Kerala state this morning
A huge blast thought to have been caused by an improvised explosive device ripped through a Christian prayer meeting in India‘s southern state of Kerala, killing one person and wounding 36 others, police have said.
Pictures show a fireball erupting in a meeting hall as worshippers watched the flames in horror, with plastic chairs flung across the floor as others ran for their lives.
More than 2,000 people were attending the final day of a three-day Jehovah’s Witnesses prayer meeting in Kalamassery, near the port city of Kochi, when the blast tore through the building.
The circumstances around it are now the subject of an urgent probe, with police saying they ‘are examining all angles’ and vowing to find out ‘who is behind this.’
The explosion rocked the Zamra International Convention Centre at about 9.40am (04.10 GMT), with 36 people rushed to hospital and now undergoing treatment, Director General of Police of Kerala Darvesh Saheb said.
Pictures show a fireball erupting in a meeting hall as worshippers watched the flames in horror
‘We will find out who is behind this and take stringent action… preliminary investigation shows it was an IED (improvised explosive device) blast,’ he added.
Counter-terror investgators and National Security Guards are reportedly on the scene.
The Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported at least three ‘blasts’.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters police were investigating the ‘unfortunate incident’ and said that he was monitoring the situation closesly.
Police and medical personnel were put on high alert state-wide.
Around two percent of India’s 1.4 billion people are Christian, according to the last census.
People gather outside following a blast at the Zamra convention center in Kalamassery, a town in Kochi, southern Kerala state, India
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.