Thailand massacre: among at least 36 children killed in childcare

Bangkok, Thailand

Terror in Thailand subsided on Thursday after at least 36 people, at least 24 of them children, were killed in a massacre at a childcare center in northeastern Thailand believed to be the deadliest incident of its kind in the country.

Authorities immediately launched a manhunt for the suspected attacker, who was later identified by the Thai Central Bureau of Investigation (CIB) as Banya Kamrap, a 34-year-old former policeman. According to the Royal Thai Police, he was suspended from duty earlier this year on drug possession charges.

Among the dozens of victims are Kamrap’s wife and husband, who investigators say killed him before he committed suicide.

His two-year-old son-in-law was registered in the nursery school he attacked on Thursday, but he was not present while the attack was carried out, according to the local police chief.

“He (Kamrap) went to look for his two-year-old son, but the boy wasn’t there…so he started shooting and stabbing people in the nursery,” police spokesman Major General Paysan Loizumbon told CNN.

Then “Kamrap managed to get into a room in which 24 children slept together,” killing all but one of them.

“He also used a knife to stab both the children and the staff at the center,” Loiszombon said.

One of the center’s teachers described a horrific scene to local media, explaining that the attacker entered the center at noon, while two others were having lunch.

“I suddenly heard the sound like it was just a fire cracker. So I looked back [and] “The two crews collapsed to the ground,” said the teacher.

They said, “Then he pulled another gun from his waist… I didn’t expect that he would kill children either.”

The teacher also said that the attacker also had a second handgun, as well as a knife, which he used to fatally stab another teacher who was eight months pregnant.

An eyewitness told Reuters she believed the attacker was coming to pick up his child. When he got to the center, she said, he “didn’t say anything” and “shot at the door while the kids were sleeping.”

Most of the deaths were the result of “stab wounds,” Lesombone told CNN.

A teacher also told Reuters that the attacker used the knife mainly.

“It all came down very quickly. He was cutting the knife, he didn’t use the gun, he just kept cutting it there. Everything with a knife,” she said.

Police General Damrongsak Kitiprapas said the attacker “mainly used the knife” to kill the children.

“Then he went out and started killing anyone he met along the way with a gun or a knife until he got home,” Kitiprapas said. “We surrounded the house and then found that he committed suicide in his house.”

The massacre took place at the Child Development Center in Uthaisawan Na Klang District, Nong Bua Lamphu District, according to a statement by the Prime Minister, who described the incident as “shocking” and expressed his condolences to the families of the victims.

Located about 540 kilometers (about 335 miles) northeast of Bangkok, the province is largely peaceful and quiet, not known for violence.

Chan-o-cha will travel to the province on Friday to meet with the families of the victims, according to a statement from his office.

The Royal Thai Police said Kamrap was due to deliver a verdict in his ongoing case of alleged methamphetamine possession on October 7.

In a previous undated search of his home, police found a yaba painting in his home, they said. Yaba is a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine, a tablet that is usually crushed and smoked, known locally as “crazy medicine.”

“Category 1” drug possession charges led to his dismissal in January.

The authorities guarded the entrance to the child care center after the massacre.

Paramedics arrived at a child care center on Thursday, where more than 30 people were killed, most of them children.

Weapon ownership in Thailand is relatively high compared to other countries in Southeast Asia.

There were more than 10.3 million civilian-owned firearms in Thailand, or about 15 guns for every 100 people, according to 2017 data from the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey (SAS). Roughly 6.2 million of these guns are legally registered, according to SAS.

Thailand ranks as the Southeast Asian country with the second highest rate of firearm homicides after the Philippines, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in the University of Washington’s Global Burden of Disease 2019 database.

In a statement, UNICEF said it was “shocked” by the tragedy and offered its condolences to the affected families.

He condemned the attack, saying, “No child should be a target or witness to violence anywhere and at any time,” adding: “Early childhood development centers, schools and all learning spaces should be safe havens for young children to learn, play and grow during their critical years.” .

UK Prime Minister Liz Truss said in a tweet on Twitter that she was “shocked to hear of the horrific events”, and said her “thoughts are with all those affected and first responders”.

“The UK stands with the Thai people at this difficult time,” she said.

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