At least 34 people were killed Thursday when a former police officer opened fire at a child daycare facility in Thailand, local authorities said.
The gunman, named by authorities as Panya Kamrab, 34, had recently been fired after being caught in possession of methamphetamine. The brutal attack in the northeastern province of Nong Bua Lamphu left over 24 children dead, according to local news site Khaosod English, with Kamrab allegedly killing his own wife and child in the rampage.
The attacker shot himself dead after the massacre, which began with the murder of around four or five staff members before the shooter targeted the estimated 30 children on site at the time. One of the slain teachers was eight months pregnant, district official Jidapa Boonsom told Reuters.
“At first people thought it was fireworks,” she added.
According to reports, the preschool-aged children at the center were asleep when the attack began around 12:30 p.m. local time. Local television reports that some of the victims were as young as 2 years old, and that the attack was carried out with a 9mm gun and a knife used to stab the children.
Unverified images circulating on social media appear to show sheets covering children’s bodies lying in pools of blood in the daycare center.
Before local media reported that the shooter had killed himself, a manhunt was underway for Kamrab, who was said to have fled the scene in a white pick-up truck.
A local hospital has asked for more blood donations in the wake of the attack, Thai media reports.
The shooting Thursday is the deadliest mass shooting in Thailand since an assault rifle-wielding soldier killed at least 29 people and wounded dozens in 2020 during a rampage across four locations after becoming enraged about a botched property deal.
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