The Kerala Police on Sunday said that a man from Thrissur claimed responsibility for a series of blasts at a convention centre of a Christian religious group, PTI reported.

The explosion, which occurred at a Jehovah’s Witnesses gathering in Kalamassery municipality area, left two persons dead and at least 41 injured. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Sunday evening that five of those injured are critical.

Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) MR Ajith Kumar said that a man named Dominic Martin surrendered to the police in the Thrissur district and claimed responsibility for the blasts, ANI reported. He said that the police are investigating his claim.

Martin later said in a video that he had been a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses for 16 years, The Indian Express reported.

“I had been a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the last 16 years,” he said. “I was not very serious about my faith. I realised that their stand is anti-national and wanted them to rectify it. But they were not ready for it.”

The blasts

Around 2,500 Jehovah’s Witnesses from across the state had gathered for a prayer session at the Zamra International Convention and Exhibition Centre when the blasts took place.

A witness told reporters that the first blast took place around 9.30 am, five minutes after the prayer session began.

“There was a series of blasts from the stage of the convention hall, which had around 2,000 people,” the witness said, according to The Indian Express. “The three-day convention began on Friday and was slated to be over on Sunday.”

A preliminary investigation indicates that an improvised explosive device may have been used in the blasts, Kerala Director General of Police Shaik Darvesh Saheb told reporters. He, however, declined to say whether the blasts constituted a terror attack.

A team of the National Investigation Agency has arrived at the site and is collecting evidence. The National Security Guard has also been called to the site to investigate the explosion, reported the Hindustan Times.

Videos on social media show multiple fires inside the convention centre and those attending the event screaming. Fire brigade and police personnel evacuated people from the site, which has now been cordoned off.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the blasts were unfortunate, adding that the situation is being viewed seriously. “Senior officials, including the state DGP [director general of police], have moved to Kochi,” he said, reported The Indian Express. “Among the injured, the condition of two is serious.”

He also spoke with Union Home Minister Amit Shah about the incident, reported the Hindustan Times.

Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan said that the incident was shocking, reported ANI.

“It is disturbing to note that Kerala is becoming a place where such incidents are happening which are considered a terrorist act,” the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said. “The home minister has already spoken to the chief minister of Kerala.”