A gunman opened fire at a childcare center in northeast Thailand on Thursday afternoon, killing at least 38 people, children among them, before fleeing and taking his own life and killing his family.
Early death tolls are already placing fatalities higher than the 2020 Korat attack, Thailand’s current most deadly mass shooting in history.
The shooting took place in the town of Nong Bua Lamphu in Nong Bua Lamphu province, close to the border with Laos. The gunman also used a knife during the attack, which took place during the children’s nap time, local media reported.
A regional public affairs office spokesperson said that among the dead were at least 23 children, two teachers, and one police officer, AP reported. The death-toll has risen to at least 38, with children as young as two years old among the dead.
A local official told Reuters that the gunman shot four or five staff members, including a teacher who was eight months pregnant, before forcefully entering a locked room to stab children with a knife.
Videos on social media show the aftermath of the shooting at the childcare center, with shattered glass, blood stains, and children on the floor.
Local reports identified the gunman as an ex-police officer who was previously arrested for drug offences and fired from his job. After the attack, he fled the scene in a white pick-up truck, returning home to kill his wife and child before taking his own life.
In February 2020, Thailand saw its then-deadliest mass shooting ever when Jakrapanth Thomma, a soldier in the Thai army, opened fire at multiple locations, including a shopping mall, in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima. Thomma live-streamed his rampage, a mass shooting referred to as Korat, as he killed 29 people and injured 58 others over the course of two days, before turning the gun on himself.
Soon after the attack, the Nong Bua Lamphu Hospital posted an urgent call for donations from all blood groups.
“I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families of the lost and injured,” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said in a statement on Facebook.
While Thailand allows its citizens to obtain gun licences for purposes like self-defense or hunting, the country is home to a thriving underground firearms market. Thailand’s rate of firearms-related deaths ranks higher than the U.S. and all other Southeast Asian countries except the Philippines.
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