Bangkok, Oct 6 (EFE).- Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered an investigation into a mass shooting that killed at least 37 people, including 22 children, at a child daycare center in northeastern Thailand on Thursday.
The suspect, identified as a 34-year-old former police officer, burst into the nursery in Nong Bua Lamphu province in the early afternoon armed with guns and knives and opened fire on those inside before fleeing the scene in a white pickup truck. He killed himself after the attack, along with his wife and child, the Central Investigation Bureau said on its Facebook account.
Fifteen other people were injured, eight of whom were in a critical condition. Local area hospitals were calling for urgent blood donations.
Prayut expressed his condolences to the victims’ families and has sent the chief of police to the northeastern village of Uthai Sawan to speed up the investigations, according to a statement posted to Twitter. The prime minister is expected to visit the town on Friday.
Photos provided by police and others circulating on social media show dozens of bloody bodies on the ground and distraught relatives arriving at the center that had been cordoned off by police.
The gunman, Panya Kamrarb, had served as a police officer in the province until he was arrested for drug possession and expelled from the force, the Royal Thai Police said on Facebook.
Police chief Damrongsak Kittiprapas told a press conference that Panya was scheduled to go to court on Friday on the drug charges, adding he had been stressed and heavily under the influence of methamphetamines.
Police spokesman Paisan Luesomboon told ThaiPBS television that the assailant had arrived at the daycare center, which caters to children between two and five years old, to pick up his son.
“When he couldn’t find his son he got even more stressed and started shooting,” said the spokesman, who added that he then returned home where he killed his wife and son before taking his own life.
Gun ownership in Thailand is relatively high compared with other countries in the region, but mass shootings of this nature are rare.
In 2020, a soldier killed at least 29 people and wounded 58 in a rampage that spanned multiple locations, including a military camp and a large shopping mall in lower northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima province.
Last month, a police officer shot dead two colleagues and wounded another at the Army War College of the Army Training Command in Bangkok. EFE