A former police officer killed at least 24 children and 11 adults in a mass shooting and stabbing attack that began at a day care centre in northern Thailand on Thursday, police said.
Police Maj Gen Achayon Kraithong said the shooting took place early in the afternoon in the province of Nong Bua Lam Phu. Twenty-two children and two adults were killed in the building before the assailant fled, a police statement said, but he continued to shoot people from his car, killing a further eight adults and one child.
The attacker, whom police named as Panya Khamrab, then drove home, killed his wife and child then turned the gun on himself. Twelve others were wounded in the attack.
Chakkraphat Wichitvaidya, superintendent of Na Klang police station, told Thai Rath TV that Panya was discharged from the police force last year.
Witness Paweena Purichan, 31, was riding her motorcycle to her shop when she encountered the fleeing Panya driving erratically.
“He intended to crash into others on the road,” she told AFP.
“The attacker rammed a motorbike and two people were injured. I sped off to get away from him.
“There was blood everywhere.”
Paweena said the attacker was well known in the area as a drug addict.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha described it as a “shocking incident” and sent condolences to the families of the victims.
On his Facebook page, Mr Prayuth ordered all agencies to help treat the wounded.
Nations around the world condemned the attack.
The UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation expressed its “permanent rejection of all forms of violence that aim to destabilise security and stability in contravention of human values and principles” and added its “sincere condolences” to the Thai government, the country's people and the families of the victims.
“It’s impossible to comprehend the heartbreak of this horrific news from Thailand. All Australians send their love and condolences,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tweeted.
The rate of gun ownership in Thailand is high compared with other countries in South-East Asia, but official figures do not include huge numbers of illegal weapons, many of which have been brought in across the country's porous borders.
The rate of firearms-related deaths in 2019 was about four per 100,000, compared with about 11 per 100,000 in the US and nearly 23 per 100,000 in Brazil.
Mass shootings are rare, but in 2020, a soldier, angered over a failed property deal, killed at least 29 and wounded 57 in a rampage that spanned four locations.