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More than 30 people have been killed in a horror mass shooting at a children’s daycare centre in Thailand, with victims as young as two years old.

Former policeman Panya Khamrap, armed with a shotgun, a pistol and a knife, first shot dead multiple adults including an eight-month pregnant woman, before forcing his way into a locked room where he stabbed sleeping children to death.

The 34-year-old, who had been in court earlier today on drugs charges, continued the massacre in nearby streets and buildings before fleeing in a white van which he torched at his home before killing his wife and child and turning the gun on himself. 

Dozens of blood-soaked bodies were scattered across the floor and grounds of the nursery. 

In total, 35 people have been killed along with the shooter. 24 bodies, including 19 boys, three girls and two adults were found at the nursery. A further adult and young boy were killed outside the centre in a nearby government office.

At the shooter’s house, one boy and four adults were found dead, and another adult at a nearby building was also killed. Three further adults were taken to hospital where they were pronounced dead, and 12 more are being treated for injuries.

Khamrap was fired from the force last year after failing a drugs test, and he appeared in court today prior to the shootings.

Among the dead are at least 24 children and multiple teachers after the brutal massacre carried out by a former policeman who then took his own life

Among the dead are at least 24 children and multiple teachers after the brutal massacre carried out by a former policeman who then took his own life

In total, 35 people have been killed. 24 bodies, including 19 boys, three girls and two adults were found at the nursery

In total, 35 people have been killed. 24 bodies, including 19 boys, three girls and two adults were found at the nursery

Police Major General Achayon Kraithong said the shooting happened in the town of Nongbua Lamphu early in the afternoon

Police Major General Achayon Kraithong said the shooting happened in the town of Nongbua Lamphu early in the afternoon

The suspect has been named by police as Panya Khamrap (pictured) who was fired from the force last year after failing a drugs test

The suspect has been named by police as Panya Khamrap (pictured) who was fired from the force last year after failing a drugs test

A manhunt was launched after the massacre at the nursery but police could only arrive to find the shooter and his family already dead at his home

A manhunt was launched after the massacre at the nursery but police could only arrive to find the shooter and his family already dead at his home

The massacre occurred in Nong Bua Lamphu, in the northeast of the Southeast Asian country

The massacre occurred in Nong Bua Lamphu, in the northeast of the Southeast Asian country

A huge manhunt was launched after the massacre at the nursery but police could only arrive at the shooter’s home to find his burned-out pickup truck and his family already dead inside. 

About 30 children were at the centre when the gunman came in around lunchtime, district official Jidapa Boonsom told Reuters.

The man first shot four or five staff, including a teacher who was eight months pregnant, Jidapa said.

‘At first people thought it was fireworks,’ she added.

The gunman escaped in a white four-door Vigo pickup truck and the bumper fell off as he fled. 

One member of staff at the daycare centre said: ‘I knew it was a gun because I heard multiple gunshots, and then I saw him put in the bullets and point the gun at me.

‘I called the teacher, and the teacher was hugging the child. He kicked the mirror and I climbed the walls and asked for help.

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‘He was inside the child centre for a long time. He used a knife and cut all the kids’ heads. He was carrying a small gun.

‘I didn’t know he was going to kill the kids. I thought he was gonna come out but he stayed inside a long time. He used a knife and stabbed all the kids.

‘He also stabbed a pregnant teacher. Only few months til she gives birth. He stabbed my staff. That’s all I know.

Eyewitness Paweena Purichan, 31, was riding her motorcycle to her shop when she encountered the fleeing Panya driving erratically.

‘He intended to crash into others on the road,’ she told AFP.

‘The attacker rammed a motorbike and two people were injured. I sped off to get away from him.’

‘There was blood everywhere.’

Paweena said the attacker was well known in the area as a drug addict.

He escaped in a white four-door Vigo pickup truck and the bumper fell off as he fled

He escaped in a white four-door Vigo pickup truck and the bumper fell off as he fled

The prime minister alerted all agencies to take action and apprehend the culprit (pictured)

The prime minister alerted all agencies to take action and apprehend the culprit (pictured)

A witness (pictured) said she heard multiple gunshots and saw the gunman kill her colleagues

A witness (pictured) said she heard multiple gunshots and saw the gunman kill her colleagues 

Thailand forms part of Southeast Asia’s so-called Golden Triangle which has long been an infamous hotspot for the trafficking and abuse of drugs.

Surging supplies of methamphetamine have sent street prices crashing in Thailand to all-time lows, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

The prime minister had alerted all agencies to take action and apprehend the culprit, a government spokesperson said, before they found his dead body.

PM Prayuth Chan-ocha said it was a shocking incident and sent condolences to the families of the victims.

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On his Facebook page, Prayuth ordered all agencies to urgently treat the wounded

Police Major General Achayon Kraithong said the shooting happened in the town of Nongbua Lamphu early in the afternoon. 

People stand around at the nursery in shellshock after the horrific killings

People stand around at the nursery in shellshock after the horrific killings 

Khamrap was allegedly fired from the force after failing a drugs test, and was due in court tomorrow

Khamrap was allegedly fired from the force after failing a drugs test, and was due in court tomorrow

The mass killing comes less than a month after a serving army officer shot dead two colleagues at a military training base in the capital Bangkok.

While Thailand has high rates of gun ownership, mass shootings are extremely rare.

Official figures do not include huge numbers of illegal weapons, many of which have been brought in across porous borders over the years from strife-torn neighbours. 

But in the past year, there have been at least two other cases of shooting murders by serving soldiers, according to the Bangkok Post.

In 2020, in one of the kingdom’s deadliest incidents in recent years, a soldier gunned down 29 people in a 17-hour rampage and wounded scores more before he was shot dead by commandos.

That mass shooting, linked to a debt dispute between gunman Sergeant-Major Jakrapanth Thomma and a senior officer, triggered public anger against the military.

The soldier was able to steal assault rifles from an army depot before embarking on his killing spree, posting live updates on social media as he did so.

Military top brass were at pains to portray the killer as a rogue soldier.

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