'Little kids who were still sleeping': Thailand mourns victims of mass killing
NA KLANG, THAILAND - Pink and white coffins adorned with gold and bearing the bodies of the 22 children killed in a gun and knife rampage in Thailand were loaded onto a truck late on Thursday and driven away in the darkness.
Thailand's deputy prime minister Anutin Charnvirakul clasped his hands together and bowed his head as the truck, followed by ambulances carrying the bodies of further victims, pulled away in the small town of Na Klang in north-eastern Thailand.
"All Thai people, and all people around the world who know about this... will feel so depressed and saddened," Mr Anutin said.
The children, some as young as two, were killed on Thursday by a former policemen, who witnesses said burst into a daycare centre and started shooting and slashing those inside.
The massacre began around noon, when Panya Khamrapm forced his way into the childcare centre and opened fire, local media reported.
The children were believed to have been sleeping during the time of the incident.
Police spokesman Paisan Luesomboon said Panya began the attack after he failed to locate his child at the centre.
Altogether, at least 38 people were killed by Panya, who police said was discharged from duty last year for drugs use and had attended a court hearing on a narcotics charge just moments before the attack.
At least 10 people were wounded, some severely.
After returning home, police said Panya killed his wife and child before turning the gun on himself.
Rescue workers had earlier brought the bodies of the victims to a local police station and placed them into the coffins as medical staff stood by solemnly and relatives of the dead gathered, some wiping away tears.
"Nobody wants this to happen. It's a scene that nobody wants to see. It's harrowing," said Mr Piyalak Kingkaew, who led the rescue team that was the first to arrive.
His team shared images with Reuters of the scene of the massacre at the daycare centre, which showed tiny bodies laid out on blankets.
The body of one boy dressed in a Manchester United Shirt was seen on a Winnie the Pooh bed cover in a room with walls decorated with cartoon animals.
"We are used to seeing a large number of bodies, we've been through it before, but this incident is the most harrowing of all," Mr Piyalak added. "They were little kids who were still sleeping."
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha offered his condolences in a Facebook post, and said he has ordered the police to fast-track investigations into the “horrifying” crime.
He also ordered all government agencies to lower their flags to half-mast on Friday.
Mr Prayut will be travelling to the province on Friday to visit the affected families.
The authorities have shut daycare centres in the area.
Thursday’s incident is the deadliest mass shooting since a 2020 incident where a soldier gunned down 29 people and injured more than 50 others in a 17-hour rampage in Nakhon Ratchasima, a north-eastern province of Thailand.
And while gun ownership laws are strict in Thailand, it is not uncommon for people to possess illegal or unlicensed firearms and for gun incidents to occur.
Police said that the gun used in Thursday’s attack had been acquired legally. REUTERS
Auto, H. (2022, October 7). Thailand mourns after at least 38 die in daycare centre attack targeting children. The Straits Times. Retrieved October 7, 2022, from https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/little-kids-who-were-still-sleeping-thailand-mourns-victims-of-mass-killing