KNT Web Desk
At least 34 people including 22 children were murdered in a mass shooting in the northeastern province of Thailand, reports Reuters. Soon after the incident, the gunman reportedly drove back home and killed his wife and child, before shooting himself dead.
According to AFP, the attacker – an ex-police officer – was armed with a pistol and a knife when he stormed a day care centre Nong Bua Lam Phu province. He then went on a shooting spree killing children as young as two-three years old. The gunman first shot four or five staff, including a teacher who was eight months pregnant, district official Jidapa Boonsom told Reuters adding that people initially thought the gunfire sound was just fireworks.
About 30 children were at the centre when the gunman came in around lunchtime, Boonsom added. The gunman fled the scene in a vehicle after his killing spree. As per reports, the gunman has been identified as Panya Khamrab – a police lieutenant colonel who was dismissed from the force last year for drug use.
Earlier, cops had launched a manhunt for the shooter, and according to a government spokesman, the prime minister was monitoring the situation and had alerted all agencies to apprehend the culprit.
The mass killing comes just less than a month after a serving army officer shot dead two of his 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, reports AFP.
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.