At least 34 people were reported killed in a mass shooting in Thailand’s Nong Bua Lamphu province on Thursday, 6 October, after a former police officer burst into a childcare centre and opened fire at the people inside.
The gunman, identified as Panya Khamrab, later killed his wife and child, before shooting himself dead, Reuters reported.
Earlier, the police said that a manhunt was on for the gunman. Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-Ocha had alerted all agencies to act and apprehend the shooter, a government spokesperson said.
Emergency services were alerted at about 12:30 pm (2:00 pm IST) local time with reports of a disturbance at a day care centre in northeast Thailand, Al Jazeera reported.
Most Victims Are Children
Media reports said 34 people have been killed, at least 22 of whom were children. There were about 30 children were at the centre in the town of Nong Bua Lamphu when the gunman came in around lunchtime and opened fire, district official Jidapa Boonsom told Reuters.
The man first shot four or five staff, including a teacher who was eight months pregnant, Jidapa said.
"At first people thought it was fireworks," she further said.
The spokesperson added that Kamrab had come to collect his child from the daycare centre but opened fire when he did not find the child there, the report said.
The gunman was also carrying a knife. After shooting at the staff and children, he forced his way into a locked room where children were sleeping.
"He started shooting, slashing, killing children at the Utai Sawan daycare centre," police spokesperson Paisal Luesomboon said.
"He (attacker) was already stressed and when he couldn't find his child he was more stressed and started shooting," Luesomboon said.
He then drove home and killed his wife and child there before taking his own life, the spokesperson said.
The motive of the shooting is still unclear, the police said.
Former Cop With Drug Problems: Who Is the Shooter?
The gunman was identified as former policeman Panya Kamrab.
The police said that the man, a former police lieutenant colonel, had been discharged from the service last year for drug-related reasons.
The man, 34, had been facing trial on a drugs charge and had been in court in the hours before the shooting, according to a Reuters report citing a police spokesperson’s statement to ThaiPBS.
'Shoking Incident': PM Chan-Ocha
Calling the shooting a "shocking incident," Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, in a statement on Facebook, said, "I have ordered the police chief to travel to the scene immediately to take necessary actions and all involved parties to provide immediate relief to all affected people."
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan’s office said he will travel to Uthai Sawan to visit the scene on Thursday.
(With inputs from Reuters, Al Jazeera.)