Thailand: Many children among dead in pre-school attack

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At least 34 people have been killed and others injured in a gun and knife attack by a former police officer at a pre-school daycare centre in Thailand.

Police say he killed himself and his family after a manhunt following the attack in Nong Bua Lamphu province.

Children and adults are among the casualties at the nursery – police say the attacker shot and stabbed his victims before going on the run.

A motive is unclear. Police say the officer was dismissed last year.

The victims of the attack are reported to include children as young as two. At least 12 people have been wounded.

“The shooter came in around lunch time and shot four or five officials at the childcare centre first,” a local official Jidapa Boonsom, who was working nearby, told Reuters news agency.

“At first people thought it was fireworks,” she said, adding the gunman then forced entry to a locked room where children were sleeping.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha described the shooting as “a shocking event”.

Police named the attacker as Panya Kamrab. He fled the scene in a white-four door Toyota pick-up truck with Bangkok registration plates.

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A senior police officer in Nong Bua Lamphu province said 23 children were among the casualties, AFP news agency reports.

He said Kamrab, a police lieutenant colonel, had been dismissed last year for drug use.

Mass shootings in Thailand are rare although gun ownership rates are relatively high for the region. Illegal weapons are also common in the south-east Asian country, according to the Reuters news agency.

The nursery attack comes less than a month after an army officer shot dead two of his colleagues at a base in Bangkok.

In 2020 a soldier killed 29 people and injured dozens more in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima.

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