Thailand recoiled in horror after 36 people, including at least 24 children, were killed on Thursday. carnage in childcare The center in northeastern Thailand is believed to be the country’s deadliest.
Authorities immediately launched a search for a suspect in the attack, later identified by Thailand’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CIB) as 34-year-old former police officer Panya Kamrab. According to the Royal Thai Police, he was suspended earlier this year for drug possession.
Among the dozens of victims, according to investigators, were Panyan’s wife and stepson.
According to the local police chief, her 2-year-old stepson was enrolled in the kindergarten where she was attacked on Thursday, but was not there at the time of the attack.
“(Panya) went to look for his two-year-old son, but the boy was not there … so he started shooting and stabbing people in the nursery,” said police spokesman Maj. General Paisan Luesomboon told CNN.
Panya then “managed to enter a room where 24 children were sleeping together”, killing all but one of them.
“He used the knife to stab both the children and the staff at the center,” Paisan said.
One of the center’s teachers described the horrific scene to the local media, explaining that the attacker entered the center at noon, while two other employees were having lunch.
“Suddenly I heard a sound like fire crackers. So I looked back [and] two staffs fell to the ground,” said the teacher.
“Then he took out another pistol from his waist… I didn’t expect him to kill the children as well,” they said.
The teacher also said that the assailant carried a second weapon along with the knife he used to kill another teacher who was eight months pregnant.
One of the witnesses told Reuters that he believed the attacker had come to take his child. When he arrived at the center, he “didn’t say anything” and “shot at the door while the children were sleeping,” he said.
Most of the deaths were from “stab wounds,” Paisan told CNN.
The teacher also told Reuters that the attacker mainly used a knife.
“It all happened really fast. He cut the knife, he did not use the gun, he continued to shoot there. It’s all from knives,” he said.
Police General Damrongsak Kittiprapas said the attacker “mainly used a knife” to kill the children.
“He then went out and started killing everyone he met on the road with a gun or a knife until he reached home,” Damrongsak said. “We surrounded the house and then we saw that he committed suicide in his own house.”
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha called the incident “shocking” and expressed his condolences to the families of the victims. .
Located about 540 kilometers (about 335 miles) northeast of Bangkok, the province is largely peaceful and quiet and not known for violence.
Prayut will travel to the province on Friday to meet with the families of the victims, according to a statement from his office.
Royal Thai police said Panya is due to be sentenced in October in his ongoing case of alleged possession of methamphetamine. 7.
The police, who searched his residence earlier, said they found Yaba tablets in his house. Yaba is a combination of methamphetamine and caffeine, usually a crushed and smoked tablet, known locally as “crazy drug”.
A charge of possession of a “category 1” drug led to his dismissal from police duty in January.
Gun ownership in Thailand is relatively high compared to other Southeast Asian countries.
According to 2017 data from the Swiss-based Small Arms Survey (SAS), more than 10.3 million civilians own firearms in Thailand, or about 15 guns per 100 people. According to the SAS, about 6.2 million of these guns are legally registered.
According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) 2019 Global Burden of Disease database, Thailand has the second highest number of gun homicides in Southeast Asia, after the Philippines.
In a statement, UNICEF said it was “shocked” by the tragedy and offered its condolences to the families of the victims.
Condemning the attack, it added, “No child should ever be the target or witness of violence anywhere, anytime,” adding that “Early childhood development centers, schools, and all educational spaces must be safe havens for young children to learn, play, and grow in their most critical years.” “.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss tweeted that she was “shocked to hear of the horrific events” and said her “thoughts are with all those affected and first responders”.
“The UK stands with the Thai people at this terrible time,” he said.