- Total death toll including the shooter 37 – from the police
- Attacker killed 24 children and 13 adults on a rampage
- It was a Thai day care center for children aged 2-5
- Most of the child victims were stabbed – the police
- The attacker killed his wife and child and shot himself
Klang, Thailand (Reuters) – A former policeman killed 34 people, including 23 children, during a knife-and-gun attack at a daycare center in northeastern Thailand on Thursday, before later shooting dead his wife and child, police said. The house is pointing his gun at himself.
In one of the world’s worst child deaths in a massacre by a single killer in modern history, most of the children who died at the day care center in Uthai Sawan, a town 500 kilometers (310 mi) northeast of Bangkok, were stabbed to death. . The police said.
A local official told Reuters that the age range of children in the nursery ranged between two and five years.
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Police identified the attacker as a former member of the force who was dismissed from his position last year over drug allegations and is facing trial for drug charges.
Police spokeswoman Bessal Luisumbon told ThaiPBS that the man was in court earlier in the day and then went to the day care center to pick up his child.
Baisal said that when he did not find his child there, he started a killing spree. “He started shooting, killing children in Uthai Sawan nursery school,” Besal said.
“It’s a sight no one wants to see. From the first step when I went in, I felt bad,” Bialak King Kaew, an experienced emergency worker who heads up the first responders team, told Reuters.
“We’ve had it before, but this incident is so horrific because they are young children.”
Reuters saw a large transport truck, which police said contained 22 bodies, mostly children, leaving a police station heading towards the city of Udon Thani, 80 km away, where the autopsy will be carried out.
I begged him for mercy
Late on Thursday, a Reuters photographer also saw the body of the shooter, Banya Khamrapam, being transported in a bag from a pickup truck to a police station in the province.
Pictures taken by the rescue team at the day care center and shared with Reuters showed the small bodies of the dead lying on blankets. Abandoned juice boxes were scattered on the floor.
“He was turning toward me and I begged him for mercy, I didn’t know what to do,” a stunned woman told ThaiPBS as she cried.
“He didn’t say anything, he shot the door while the kids were sleeping,” said another woman, in a daze.
Police said the attacker’s weapon was a 9mm pistol and was obtained legally.
Thailand’s police chief said the perpetrator tried to break into the building and often used a knife to kill.
“Then he went out and started killing anyone he met along the road with a gun or a knife until he came home. We surrounded his house and then we found out that he committed suicide in his house,” Damrongsak Kitiprapas told reporters.
A few children survived, he said, without going into details.
There were about 30 children in the facility — a pink one-story building surrounded by a garden and small palm trees — when the attacker arrived, less than usual, because heavy rain kept too many people away, said district official Jedaba Bonsum, who was. Working in a nearby office at that time.
“The shooter came at lunchtime and killed four or five childcare officials first,” Jedapa told Reuters.
Jidaba said the attacker broke into a closed room where the children were sleeping. She said a teacher who was eight months pregnant was also among those stabbed to death.
The massacre is among the worst massacres in which children were killed by one person. Anders Breivik killed 69 people, mostly teenagers, at a summer camp in Norway in 2011, while the death toll in other cases includes 20 children at Sandy Hook Primary School in Newtown Connecticut in 2012, and 16 in Dunblane in Scotland in 1996 and 19 at school in Ovaldi, Texas, this year.
The hostage crisis at the Beslan school in Russia in 2004 saw 186 children killed by a group of hostage takers.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to visit the region on Friday. In a statement on Facebook, he called Hegan Thursday a “horrific accident.”
Prayuth ordered all government departments to raise the national flag at midday on Friday to commemorate a tragedy that “caused the sorrow of the entire nation,” said his spokeswoman Anusha Purapchisri.
A local announcement said King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida will visit the families of the victims in Udon Thani on Friday.
The government said it would provide financial assistance to families to help cover funeral expenses and medical treatment.
The White House and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressed shock at the attack, and sent their condolences to the families of the victims.
Gun laws are strict in Thailand, with illegal firearm possession punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But the ownership is high compared to some other countries in Southeast Asia. Illegal weapons, many of which are brought in from neighboring conflict-ridden countries, are common.
Mass shootings remain rare in Thailand, although in 2020 an angry soldier killed at least 29 people and wounded 57 in an attack that spread to four locations.
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Additional reporting by Bobby Macpherson and Jiraporn Kohkan in Na Klang, Orathai Sriring, Banarat Thepjumbanat, Chayut Sitpunsarang and Juarui Kitisilpa in Bangkok; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor, Robert Percell and Raisa Kasulowski; Editing by Kim Coogle, Clarence Fernandez, Mark Heinrich and Gareth Jones
Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.