At least 36 dead, including 24 children, in Thailand child-care center massacre

  • Panya Kamrab, a 34-year-old former policeman, killed 36 people, including 24 children, during a knife and gun rampage at a childcare center in northeast Thailand on Thursday.
  • Kamrab was in court earlier in the day for drug charges previously filed against him.
  • After his hearing, he headed to the childcare center in Uthai Sawan to pick up his 2-year-old stepson.
  • When he could not locate him, he started his killing spree, according to police spokesperson Paisal Luesomboon.
  • Kamrab later drove home, where he murdered his wife and stepson before killing himself.

A former policeman killed 36 people, including 24 children, during a knife and gun rampage at a child-care center in northeast Thailand on Thursday.

The attacker was identified as Panya Kamrab, a 34-year-old former policeman who was dismissed last year over drug allegations. Kamrab was in court earlier in the day for the drug charges filed against him. 

After his hearing in Nong Bua Lamphu province, he headed to the child-care center in Uthai Sawan to pick up his 2-year-old stepson. When he could not locate him, he started his killing spree, according to police spokesperson Paisal Luesomboon. 

Kamrab’s mother reportedly told Deputy National Police Chief Gen. Torsak Sukwimol that her son appeared to be stressed out from his hearing. He allegedly took some drugs and became paranoid.

“The shooter came in around lunch time and shot four or five officials at the childcare center first,” district official Jidapa Boonsom, who was working nearby at the time of the incident, said. “It’s really shocking. We were very scared and running to hide once we knew it was shooting. So many children got killed, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

There were reportedly about 30 children, whose ages ranged from 2 to 5 years, at the facility when Kamrab arrived. He managed to break into a locked room where 24 children were sleeping and killed 23 of them. 

Luesomboon noted that most of the deaths resulted from “stabbing wounds.” A teacher who was eight months pregnant was among those stabbed to death.

 As the gunman fled the scene, he also reportedly fired randomly at people on the street. He drove home, where he murdered his wife and stepson before killing himself, according to police.  

In total, Kamrab took the lives of at least 36 people, including 24 children.

“I have ordered the police chief to travel to the scene immediately to take necessary actions and all involved parties to provide immediate relief to all affected people,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha said in the statement.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) sent condolences to the victims’ families and condemned the attack. 

“No child should be a target or witness of violence anywhere, anytime,” UNICEF reportedly said in a statement. “Early childhood development centers, schools and all learning spaces must be safe havens for young children to learn, play and grow during their most critical years.”

The massacre is believed to be the deadliest rampage in Thailand’s history. Thailand reportedly has one of the highest civilian gun ownership rates in Southeast Asia, and the nation’s gun homicide rate is among the highest in Asia. According to police, Kamrab’s gun was obtained legally.

 

Featured Image via CNA

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