At least 37 people have been killed by an ex-police officer in a mass shooting that began at a nursery school in Thailand.
Panya Kamrap, 34, opened fire in the town of Nongbua Lamphu in the northeast of the country on Thursday afternoon, killing at least 24 children and 13 adults.
The disgraced ex-sergeant, who had been sacked earlier this year for drug-related offences, killed at least 19 boys, three girls and two adults at the childcare setting at 12.30pm local time, before fleeing the scene, police said.
He used multiple weapons, including a 9mm pistol that he had purchased himself and a knife in the attack, according to local officials.
Panya then shot at people from his car as he drove home to kill his wife and child, before taking his own life, police said.
The gunman killed 11 other adults after leaving the nursery, including his wife and a police officer, and two other children, including his own son.
‘He shot at the door and shot right through it’
Staff at the nursery had locked the door to the building when they saw the suspect approaching with a handgun, but he shot through it, a witness told Thailand’s Kom Chad Luek television.
“The teacher who died, she had a child in her arms,” said the unnamed woman at the scene. “I didn’t think he would kill children, but he shot at the door and shot right through it.”
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed his “deepest condolences” to the victims of the “shocking” shooting in a post distributed on his official Facebook page.
He told the media that initial reports suggested the gunman was having personal problems.
Mr Prayut is travelling to the town today and said the country’s chief of police was supporting those involved.
The event marks the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history.
Firearm-related deaths in Thailand are lower than those in the US or Brazil but higher than in countries like Japan and Singapore, which have strict gun control laws.
The country’s previous worst mass shooting was in 2020 when a soldier shot 29 people at a shopping centre in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima in 2020.