Man surrenders to police over blast at Christian gathering in India's Kerala

At least one person died and dozens were injured at the religious gathering in Kochi

At least one person was killed in explosions at the Zamra Convention Centre in Kochi, India, on Sunday. AP
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A man turned himself in to the police after claiming he was behind the blasts that rocked a Jehovah's Witnesses meeting early on Sunday, in India’s southern Kerala state.

One woman was killed and nearly two dozen were injured in explosions that police say were caused by an improvised explosive device kept in a lunchbox at the gathering in Kochi.

Media reports said Dominic Martin surrendered to police in Trissur district and confessed to planting the bomb.

“Dominic Martin has submitted some evidence which we are examining. He claims to be a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses church,” the Hindustan Times reported, quoting Kerala's police.

More than 2,000 people were attending the final day of the gathering at the Zamra International Convention Centre in Kochi in Kerala state, when the first explosion took place at about 9.45am, according to witnesses.

The first blast was in the middle of the hall, followed by two simultaneous explosions on either side, a witness told the India Today news channel.

“I heard three blast noises. I was in the back, there was a lot of smoke,” the witness said.

News channels showed footage of people running in panic and ambulances reaching the venue.

Thirty-five people were taken to the Kalamassery Medical College with injuries, seven of whom were in intensive care, the state's Health Minister, Veena George, wrote on Facebook.

“All health workers, including doctors who are on leave, have been instructed to return immediately – additional staffing will also be provided,” she said.

One woman died after suffering serious burns, the head of Kerala state's Indian National Congress party, V D Satheesan, said.

Shaik Darvesh Saheb, the state's top police officer, said the blasts were caused by an improvised explosive device.

“Preliminary investigation shows it was an IED device and we are examining it,” he said.

“Police are conducting a thorough investigation, we will find out who is behind this and take strict action.”

“It's a very unfortunate incident. We are taking it very seriously,” said Kerala's Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan.

“I have spoken to the top police officials, and we will get more details after the investigation.”

Updated: October 30, 2023, 10:07 AM