A former policeman killed 38 people, including 23 children, in a knife-and-gun rampage at a daycare centre in Thailand. He later shot dead his wife and child at their home before turning a weapon on himself.
Armed with a shotgun, pistol and knife, Panya opened fire on the childcare centre in northeastern Nong Bua Lam Phu province at about 12:30pm (05:30 GMT) on Thursday, before fleeing the scene in a pick-up truck.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
Here is what you need to know:
Nanthicha Punchum, acting head of the nursery, told of harrowing scenes as the attacker barged into the building.
“There were some staff eating lunch outside the nursery and the attacker parked his car and shot four of them dead,” she said. “The shooter smashed down the door with his leg and then came inside and started slashing the children’s heads with a knife.”
The attacker forced his way into a locked room where the children were sleeping, district official Jidapa Boonsom said. She added a teacher who was eight months pregnant was also stabbed to death.
Videos posted on social media showed sheets covering what appeared to be the bodies of children lying in pools of blood in the garden of the daycare centre.
Who is the attacker?
The 34-year-old gunman was a former police sergeant suspended in January and sacked in June for drug use, National Police chief Damrongsak Kittiprapat told reporters.
“As far as I know he was due in court tomorrow for a drug-related trial,” he said.
He said the attacker was in a manic state but it was unknown whether it was drug-related. “We have to test his blood for drugs,” he said.
The man had been in court earlier in the day and had then gone to the daycare centre to collect his child, police spokesperson Paisal Luesomboon told broadcaster Thai PBS.
When he did not find his child there he began the killing spree, Paisal said. “He started shooting, slashing, killing children at the Utai Sawan daycare centre.”
Video shows the scene outside a children’s daycare centre in northeast Thailand where more than 30 people, including children, have been killed in a mass shooting.
Police say the suspect fled the scene then shot himself and his family ⤵️
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 6, 2022
How common are these attacks?
Police said the gun used in the shooting had been obtained legally.
Gun laws are strict in Thailand where possession of an illegal firearm carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years. But ownership is high compared with some other countries in Southeast Asia. Illegal weapons, many brought in from strife-torn neighbouring countries, are common.
Mass shootings in Thailand remain rare although 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.