At least 38 people, including 22 kids, were killed Thursday in a mass shooting at a children’s day-care centre in a northeastern province of Thailand, reported news agency Reuters citing a police official. The gunman was an ex-police officer and he took his own life following the shooting, it added.
The official confirmed to Reuters the gunman killed his wife and child and himself during the incident. He was reportedly discharged from the police force last year.
Police added that children as young as 2 years old were among the victims.
How the events unfolded
The gunman reportedly opened fire early in the afternoon in the centre of the town of Nongbua Lamphu.
A report in Thailand-based Bangkok Post identified the gunman as former Pol Cpl Panya Khamrab and said that he carried guns and knives as he forced his way inside the centre and opened fire.
He had been discharged from the service for drug-related reasons, said a Reuters report quoting the police. About 30 children were at the centre when the gunman came in around lunchtime. A district official Jidapa Boonsom said that he first shot four or five staff, including a teacher who was eight months pregnant.
“At first people thought it was fireworks,” she added.
Videos posted on social media showed sheets covering what appeared to be the bodies of children lying in pools of blood at the centre in the town of Uthai Sawan in the northeastern province of Nong Bua Lamphu, said the report.
The rate of gun ownership in Thailand is high compared with some other countries in the region but official figures do not include huge numbers of illegal weapons, many of which have been brought in across porous borders over the years from strife-torn neighbours.
Mass shootings are rare but in 2020, a soldier angry over a property deal gone sour killed at least 29 people and wounded 57 in a rampage that spanned four locations.
(Compiled from AP, Reuters reports)