AOAV: all our reportsExplosive violence researchExplosive violence in India

India: 3 civilians killed, over 50 injured in IED explosion at a Jehovah’s Witnesses meeting in Kerala, 29 Oct

On the morning of Sunday 29 October, a series of explosions went off during a Jehovah’s Witnesses prayer session in Kalamassery, a town in India’s southern Kerala state. The session was part of a three-day denomination gathering, attended by over 2,000 people. One IED exploded in the middle of the hall, followed by two blasts on either side of the room.

Two women died on Sunday, while a young girl succumbed to her injuries on Monday. Over 50 people were reported to be injured.

A 48-year-old man, Dominic Martin, posted his confession in a Facebook video (which has since been deleted) before handing himself in to the police. Kerala police officials believe the blasts were caused by remote-controlled IEDs Martin placed inside tiffin boxes. 

Martin was reportedly a former member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and claimed he carried out the blasts because he believed their ideas were dangerous to the country.

Since 2010, AOAV has recorded 1,528 incidents of explosive weapons use in India, resulting in 4,030 reported civilian casualties (574 killed, 3,456 injured). Non-state actors are the reported perpetrators in the case of 41% (1,668) of civilian casualties, while state actors reportedly caused 20% (787) of civilian harm.

IEDs have caused 53% (2,126) of those casualties. Ground-launched weapons have killed and injured 46% (1,849) of civilian casualties in India since 2010.

Launch methodCivilian casualtiesIncidents
Multiple types165

The majority of civilian harm from IEDs in India has been reported in commercial premises, where 12% (263) of civilian casualties occurred, followed by 11% urban residential areas (238), villages (226), and public gatherings (224)  respectively.

LocationsCivilian casualtiesIncidents
Commercial premises26333
Urban residential23882
Public gathering22419
Public transport17912
Public building17325
Multiple (urban)1312
Transport related infrastructure10425
Place of worship718
No information59145
Agricultural land3125
Police station227
Town centre198
Armed base1619
Humanitarian infrastructure21

Over the past decade (2013-2022), India was the 12th most affected country for civilian harm from all explosive weapons (IEDs and manufactured), and the 11th most affected for civilian harm from IEDs. 

AOAV’s casualty figures represent the lowest of estimations in terms of the number of people killed and injured by explosive weapon use. In an effort to quantify the explicit harm caused by specific explosive weapons, AOAV solely records incident-specific casualty figures, as reported in English-language media.

AOAV condemns the use of violence against civilians and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. All actors should stop using explosive weapons with wide-area effects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.