Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Families mourn Thai nursery dead ahead of king's visit



Families mourn Thai nursery dead ahead of king's visit

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A child sits next to the mother of a victim as she cries outside the nursery, where a former police officer killed at least 37 people in a mass shooting, in Thailand's northeastern Nong Bua Lam Phu province on October 7. AFP

Families mourn Thai nursery dead ahead of king's visit

Weeping, grief-stricken families gathered on October 7 outside a Thai nursery where an ex-policeman murdered nearly two dozen children in one of the kingdom's worst mass killings.

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will later visit survivors of the attack that left at least 37 people dead, including the attacker's wife and child.

Overnight, coffins carrying the bodies of the victims – who include 23 children – arrived at a morgue in Udon Thani, the closest city to the sleepy rural district ripped apart by the three-hour rampage the previous day.

Armed with a 9mm pistol and a knife, sacked police sergeant Panya Khamrab opened fire on the childcare centre in the northeastern Nong Bua Lam Phu province at about 12:30pm.

Following the attack, 34-year-old Panya fled the scene in a pickup truck to head home and murder his wife and child before taking his own life, police said, ending the killing spree around 3pm.

Outside the nursery – a low building in a local government complex fronted by a lawn – scores of people gathered on October 7 to mourn and pay their respects.

Some wept inconsolably, wiping their eyes as loved ones hugged them.

Flags on government buildings flew at half-mast on October 7 in a gesture of mourning for one of the deadliest days in recent Thai history.

Nanthicha Punchum, acting chief of the nursery, described harrowing scenes as the attacker barged into the building in the rural Na Klang district.

"There were some staff eating lunch outside the nursery and the attacker parked his car and shot four of them dead," she told AFP.

"The shooter smashed down the door with his leg and then came inside and started slashing the children's heads with a knife."

Local media reported that the dead included a school teacher who was eight months pregnant, and that one child survived because they were sleeping hidden by a blanket when the attacker struck.

National Police chief Damrongsak Kittiprapat told reporters that Panya, a former police sergeant, was suspended in January and sacked in June for drug use.

He said the attacker – who used a legally purchased pistol – had been due in court on a drugs charge, adding that Panya was in a manic state but it was unknown whether it was drug-related.

Witness Paweena Purichan, 31, said the attacker was well-known in the area as a drug addict.

She told AFP she encountered Panya driving erratically as he fled the scene.

"The attacker rammed a motorbike into two people who were injured. I sped off to get away from him," she said.

"There was blood everywhere."

Video footage that Paweena posted online showed a woman lying injured in a roadside bush after apparently being knocked off her motorbike by Panya.

Prayut has ordered a rapid probe into the attack, which came less than three years after a soldier gunned down 29 people in a 17-hour rampage and wounded scores more before he was shot dead by commandos.

And less than a month ago, an army officer shot dead two colleagues at a military training base in the capital Bangkok.

But while Thailand has high rates of gun ownership, mass shootings such as the latest incident are rare.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Takeo hand-woven silk items provide local high-quality alternative to imports

    After graduating from university and beginning her career as a civil servant at the the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Khieu Sina found time to establish a business that aligns with her true passion – quality hand-woven Khmer goods. Her product line, known as Banteay Srei,

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival draws to close

    Cambodia's 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival wrapped up successfully on November 28 after a four-day run, with the film “Voice of the Night” awarded top prize for 2022. Sum Sithen, the organiser of the short film festival, told The Post that the number of attendees to the