At least 35 people were killed in a mass shooting at a children’s daycare center in a northeastern Thailand town on Thursday.
Here’s what we know so far.
What are the details?
Police said the shooting occurred in Na Klang district of Nong Bua Lamphu, some 269 miles away from Bangkok, early in the afternoon.
The attacker, a former police officer, was armed with a shotgun, a pistol and a knife when he forced his way into the center around 12:30 p.m. local time and opened fire. The Associated Press reports that 19 boys, three girls and two adults were killed in the building, according to a police statement. The attacker also shot nine other people dead as he fled.
A district official told Reuters that one of the teachers shot was eight months pregnant.
Police Maj. General Paisal Luesomboon told ThaiPBS that the attacker appeared under the influence of drugs and that he had been discharged last year for alleged drug abuse.
How common are mass shootings in Thailand?
Gun violence is a growing problem in Thailand. The country is second to the Philippines for the number of gun homicides in Southeast Asia.
But Thai gun experts say most illicit firearms are used for crimes other than homicide. Mass shootings in Thailand are rare. In February 2020, a 31-year-old soldier in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima killed 29 people and wounded 57 before being shot dead. Most of the victims were at a shopping center.
Among the slain were the shooter’s superior officer, as well as the officer’s mother-in-law, who was accused of cheating the soldier in a lucrative land deal.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha described that massacre as “unprecedented in Thailand.”
On Sept. 14, 2022, a soldier at a base in the Thai capital Bangkok killed two people and wounded one.
Are guns easy to get in Thailand?
An article published just a month ago on the English-language website of Thailand’s public broadcaster warned of the ready availability of firearms.
Entitled “4 million reasons to believe Thailand has a problem with illegal guns,” the article said there were 4 million unregistered weapons in the country and 6 million registered ones.
“Online marketplaces make it cheap and easy for civilians to obtain guns without having to go through complicated background checks,” the article said. “Several Thai social media accounts offer guns for sale with a home delivery service.”
It added that “tough rules can be bypassed with bribes or connections in the bureaucracy.”
How is the world reacting?
World leaders expressed shock and sent their condolences to the people of Thailand following the shooting.
Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese posted on Twitter that it is “impossible to comprehend the heartbreak” of the horrific news. “All Australians send their love and condolences,” he said.
Liz Truss, the British Prime Minister, said that she was “shocked” by the shooting. “My thoughts are with all those affected and the first responders,” she said. “The U.K. stands with the Thai people at this terrible time.”
This is a developing story