Thailand Childcare Attack Kills 37
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
BANGKOK (Worthy News) – Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ordered an urgent probe and offered condolences after at least 37 people, most of them children, were killed in a knife and gun attack at a childcare center in north-eastern Thailand.
“This shouldn’t happen. I feel deep sadness toward the victims and their relatives,” he added following the deadliest known rampage in the nation’s history.
The 34-year-old assailant, a former policeman sacked in June for drug use, shot and stabbed
children and adults before fleeing the nursery, in the rural town Nongbua Lamphu, according to authorities.
He then committed suicide after killing his wife and child at home, said police who had launched a manhunt but arrived too late to prevent more killings.
More than 20 children were among the dead, with victims as young as two years old, officials said.
The death toll could have been higher: The nursery, in one of the country’s poorest regions,
usually takes 92 children. But heavy rain and the fact a shared bus broke down meant only 24 children were present, the childcare center’s head teacher said.
Photos taken by first responders showed the school’s floor littered with the tiny bodies of children still on their blankets, where they had been taking an afternoon nap. The images revealed slashes to their faces and gunshots to their heads, and pools of blood.
A teacher told ThaiPBS public broadcaster that the assailant got out of a car and immediately shot a man eating lunch outside, then fired more shots. When the attacker paused to reload, the teacher had an opportunity to run inside.
“I ran to the back; the children were asleep,” said the young woman, who did not give her name, choking back her words. “The children were two or three years old.”
Firearm-related deaths in Thailand are much lower than in countries such as the United States and Brazil but higher than in Japan and Singapore, which have strict gun-control laws, according to official estimates.
The rate of firearms-related deaths in 2019 was about 4 per 100,000, compared with about 11 per 100,000 in the U.S. and nearly 23 per 100,000 in Brazil.
Mass shootings are rare but not unheard of in Thailand, which has one of the highest civilian gun ownership rates in Asia, with 15.1 weapons per 100 population. That compares to only 0.3 in Singapore and 0.25 in Japan.