Thai gunman kills family and self after nursery shooting that left 35 dead: Police
A spokesperson for a regional public affairs office said 26 deaths have been confirmed so far — 23 children, two teachers and one police officer.
Published: 06th October 2022 01:44 PM | Last Updated: 06th October 2022 05:16 PM | A+A A-
BANGKOK: Police in Thailand say more than 35 people, including at least 23 children, were killed Thursday in a shooting at a childcare centre in the northwest of the country.
A former police officer armed with a gun and a knife stormed a nursery in northeast Thailand on Thursday, shooting dead at least 35 people including children before killing himself and his family, police said.
The attacker, armed with a shotgun, a pistol and a knife, opened fire on the childcare centre in Nong Bua Lam Phu province at about 12:30 pm (0530 GMT) before fleeing the scene in a vehicle, the force said.
"The death toll from the shooting incident... is at least 30 people," Anucha Burapachaisri, a spokesman for the Thai prime minister's office, said.
Police colonel Jakkapat Vijitraithaya, from the province where the attack happened, identified the gunman as Panya Khamrab, a police lieutenant colonel he said was dismissed from the force last year for drug use.
Jakkapat said there were 23 children among the dead, aged two to three years old. The shooting is said to have taken place during the routine 'nap-time' and most of the kids were sleeping.
The 34-year-old gunman, who was dismissed from duties for illicit drug use, then killed himself, his wife and his child while a large-scale manhunt was underway in Nong Bua Lamphu, some 333 miles north-north-east of Bangkok, reports Daily Mirror.
Panya Khamrab's motives were unclear but the fatalities included 24 children, as young as two years old, among 34 killed overall with 18 injured, a local police official said on Thursday.
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"At first people thought it was fireworks," Daily Mirror quoted a district official as saying to Reuters.
The report further added that the attacker was agitated when he arrived at the nursery to find his child was not there and left, Paisan Luesomboon, a police spokesperson, told Thai PBS television.
The man first shot four or five staff, including a teacher who was eight months pregnant.
The mass killing comes less than a month after a serving army officer shot dead two colleagues at a military training base in the capital Bangkok.
While Thailand has high rates of gun ownership, mass shootings are extremely rare.
But in the past year, there have been at least two other cases of shooting murders by serving soldiers, according to the Bangkok Post.
And in 2020, in one of the kingdom's deadliest incidents in recent years, a soldier gunned down 29 people in a 17-hour rampage and wounded scores more before he was shot dead by commandos.
That mass shooting was linked to a debt dispute between gunman Sergeant-Major Jakrapanth Thomma and a senior officer, and the military top brass were at pains to portray the killer as a rogue soldier.