A former police officer blew himself up at a daycare center in northeastern Thailand on Thursday, killing dozens of children and teachers, before opening fire on more people.
The assailant, who authorities said was fired from the force earlier this year for drug offenses, killed his wife and child at home and then killed himself.
The staff at the daycare locked the door when he saw the assailant approaching with a gun, but he opened fire inside. In footage posted online after the attack, distraught family members could be heard crying outside the daycare.
At least 36 people were killed in the attack, police spokesman Archaeon Kraithong said. He also said that 10 people, including six others, were injured. At least 24 of the dead were children, mostly preschoolers.
“The dead teacher, she had a child in her arms,” an unnamed witness told Thailand’s Kom Chad Luuk television at the scene. “I didn’t think he was going to kill the kids, but he shot at the door and shot through it.”
The suspect was identified
Police have identified the suspect as 34-year-old former police officer Panya Kamrap. In an interview with PPTV, Police Major General Paisal Luzomboon said he was dismissed from the force earlier this year due to drug-related offences.
In the attack, multiple weapons were used, including a handgun, a shotgun and a knife, Lusomboon said.
The attack took place in Uthai Sawan, a rural town in Thailand’s northeastern province of Nong Bua Lamphu, one of the country’s poorest regions, about 500 kilometers northeast of Bangkok and about 300 kilometers south of the Laotian border.
Damrongsak Kitiprafa, the local police chief, told reporters that the suspect was a sergeant in the force before the shooting and that the main weapon he used was a 9mm pistol he had bought.
“We’re still investigating all of this and need to learn from it,” he said. “Today is the first day, we don’t have all the details.”
Domestic murders following assault: Police
Police have not released a full death toll, but they said 22 children and two adults were killed at the daycare. Two more children were killed elsewhere.
Thailand has fewer gun-related deaths than countries such as the United States and Brazil, but higher than other Asian countries such as Japan and Singapore, which have stricter gun control laws.
Last month, a clerk opened fire on colleagues at Thailand’s Army War College in Bangkok, killing two and injuring another before being arrested.
The country’s worst previous mass shooting involved a disgruntled soldier who opened fire in and around a mall in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima in 2020, killing 29 people and holding off security forces for 16 hours.