Thailand: Meditation after the killing in a manger awaiting the king on the spot
Small coffins arrived overnight at a hospital morgue in northern Thailand where King Maha Vajiralongkorn is expected on Friday, the day after a massacre that killed 37 people, mostly children at a kindergarten.
King Rama X, who is considered a deity in the country, is expected at the bedside of the wounded in a hospital in Nong Bua Lamphu (north) in the evening, shortly after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha.
In the Na Klang district, silence reigned around the crib, sometimes broken by the sobbing of families and the tumult of deputies in white suits. A red carpet was rolled out for them to collect and lay flowers.
Buarai Tanontong lost two three-year-old grandchildren. “I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t imagine it could be my two grandchildren,” she said, clutching her heartbroken daughter’s shoulder.
A former police officer armed with a 9mm pistol and a long knife killed 37 people, including 23 children, on Thursday during a fatal drive that started around 12:30 p.m. (06:30 GMT) at a kindergarten in the Na Klang district.
“He broke down the front door with his foot, he came in and started slashing the kids’ heads open with a knife,” Nanthicha Punchum, director of the kindergarten, told AFP.
The attacker then went into the street and tried to run over passers-by until he got to his home, “not far” from the crèche, according to police.
– massacre “terrible” –
He then killed his wife and their young boy before killing himself before 3:00 p.m. in the early afternoon, about two hours after the murder began.
“There was blood everywhere” on the street, told AFP a witness, Paweena Purichan, 31, who was riding a motorcycle to her shop when she saw the killer appear who was “trying to hit people.”
During the night, the small white and purple coffins were transported to a hospital morgue in Udon Thani, in the neighboring province.
After this “horrific” massacre, Prayut Chan-O-Cha ordered an investigation to be launched and asked the police chief to “expedite the investigation.”
The first elements provided paint a portrait of a 34-year-old attacker plagued by drug problems that caused him to lose his police job last June.
“He was expected to be tried on Friday for his drug problem,” national police chief Damrongsak Kittiprapat said on Thursday.
“What happened today (Thursday) will serve as a lesson to prevent it from happening again in the future,” he stressed.
– “Drug Problems” –
“I am deeply saddened by the hateful shootings at a kindergarten in Thailand. These places must be places where children are safe and never attacked,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted.
This is not the first time Thailand has been hit by a massacre of this magnitude. In February 2020, an exchange of fire by an army officer left 29 dead, mostly at a shopping mall in Nakhon Ratchasima (east).
The shooter, a 31-year-old chief warrant officer, was shot dead by police after his nearly 17-hour rampage. He had played out after an argument with a supervisor.
The Na Klang drama is a reminder of the extent of the drug problems in the kingdom, where wholesale and retail prices have fallen to historic lows due to oversupply, according to data released in 2021 by the UN.
The rural province of Nong Bua Lamphu lies near the “Golden Triangle” on the border between Burma and Laos, which has been a hotspot for drug production in the region for decades.
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