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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Traumatised Relatives Cling to Toys of Children Slain in Violent Attack at Thailand Preschool

Photographs taken at the crime scene portrayed the horrible visuals of tiny bodies of those killed laid out on blankets

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THAILAND. Uthai Sawan: A day after a former Thai cop had massacred 34 people, most of them children, on a stabbing and shooting spree, at a child daycare centre in Thailand, jaded and traumatised relatives appeared at the centre, crying and clutching toys of the innocent slain.

The perpetrator had gone ballistic as he went on a frenzied knife and gun rampage, alarming the nation in one of its most gruesome and grisly acts of murder, targeting children.

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To honour the dead and mourn the victims on a collective level, government buildings flew flags at half-mast on Friday.

Out of the 34 slain, 23 were children, killed in a bloody carnage in Uthai Sawan, a town 500 km (310 miles) northeast of Bangkok, the capital city of the largely Buddhist country.

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The ex-cop entered the pink, one-story building of the child day care centre and transformed it into a hideous torture chamber with murdered and injured children lying on the floor. He then went home and shot his wife and son to death before pulling the trigger on himself.

Most of the victims, innocent children aged between two and five years, were slashed to death, while the adults were shot, police confirmed in the aftermath of the most atrocious child death tolls in a massacre perpetrated by a single killer in recent history.

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The aunt of a slain boy was clutching a stuffed dog and a toy tractor in her lap as she recounted her horrific fright when she rushed to the scene after the news spread.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha was due to visit the area on Friday. King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida were also due to meet the victims’ families, according to a local announcement.

Police authorities identified the criminal as Panya Khamrap, 34, a former police sergeant who was discharged from his duties over drug allegations and was facing trial on a drugs accusation.

Panya had gone to the daycare centre to collect his child after attending court earlier in the day, police spokesperson Paisal Luesomboon told broadcaster ThaiPBS. When he did not find his child there, he began the killing spree.

“He started shooting, slashing, killing children,” Paisal said.

A local police official, Chakkraphat Wichitvaidya, revealed that the children had been atrociously slashed with a large knife, sometimes multiple times, while the adults were mercilessly shot.

While police were still investigating the real motive behind this mass carnage, some suspect that Panya could have been under extreme stress due to the trial proceedings over his supposed drug crimes.

Photographs taken at the crime scene depicted the horrifying images of the victims’ tiny bodies laid out on blankets. Abandoned juice boxes were scattered all over the floor.

Three boys and a girl who survived the shooting were in critical condition and are now being monitored at a hospital, police said.

There were about 30 children at the centre when the attack began, which was less than usual as heavy rain had kept many people away, said district official Jidapa Boonsom.

The massacre can be termed one of the most atrocious school shooting sprees witnessed in recent history, perpetrated by a single individual. Anders Breivik killed 69 people, mostly teenagers, at a summer camp in Norway in 2011.

The Thai shooting can be tied in with the infamous Uvalde school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in the US this year, which recorded the deaths of 19 people.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 claimed the lives of 20. 16 perished at Dunblane in Scotland in 1996.

Gun laws are strict in Thailand, but gun ownership is higher than in some Southeast Asian countries, and illegal weapons are commonplace, with a smooth supply from strife-torn neighbours in the region.

Also Read: Fatal Shooting at a Russian School, Claimed 13 Lives

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