Bangkok, Oct 6 (EFE).- With a series of Buddhist prayers and ceremonies, Thailand on Thursday marked the first anniversary of the massacre perpetrated by a former police officer in a nursery in the northeast of the country, which left 37 dead, including 24 children.
A woman makes a food offering for the deceased after a morning merit making ceremony for the victims of a massacre at a childcare center, in Nong Bua Lamphu province, northeastern Thailand, 06 October 2023. EFE/EPA/NARONG SANGNAK
The anniversary comes amid renewed debate over greater gun control in the country following a shooting in a luxury downtown Bangkok shopping mall on Tuesday.
On Friday, Buddhist monks dressed in their orange robes performed religious rites to make merit for the children who lost their lives a year ago in the province of Nong Bua Lamphu.
Relatives of the victims, local residents and local government representatives attended the prayers, preceded by an offering ceremony that took place at dawn.
On Oct. 6, 2022, around noon, 34-year-old Panya Kamrab, who had been expelled from the police force for drug possession, arrived at the nursery in the town of Uthai Sawan and went on a gun and knife rampage against the children, who were taking a nap, and staff.
The perpetrator then fled while shooting at people, and rammed others with his vehicle on the way to his house, where he murdered his wife and son before committing suicide.
A Buddhist monk sprinkles water to locals attending a morning merit making ceremony for the victims of a massacre at a childcare center, in Nong Bua Lamphu province, northeastern Thailand, 06 October 2023. EFE/EPA/NARONG SANGNAK
The attack was survived by a 3-year-old girl who was found alive under a blanket in the nursery and a child who recovered from his injuries after being stabbed in the head.
According to the official count, 22 children aged 2-5 years old were murdered inside the daycare center, while another died nearby and the attacker’s son died in his home.
The massacre opened the debate on greater gun control in the country, settled without major changes, which has been revived following the Bangkok mall shooting on Tuesday, in which two women died and five other people were injured.
A 14-year-old was arrested by the police with a blank pistol modified to fire live rounds.
According to the forensic report, the suspect fired around 40 bullets during the attack.
In addition to the suspect, who was admitted to a juvenile detention center and is accused of five crimes including murder and attempted murder, police have arrested four people who are being investigated in connection with the alleged sale of the modified weapon.
Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Thursday that as a result of this latest incident the government is considering a series of measures, including banning gun sales to civilians, the registering of blank weapons and prohibiting minors from shooting ranges.
According to data from the Small Arms Survey, Thailand has about 10.34 million weapons, about 15.14 per 100 civilians, the highest ratio in Southeast Asia and one of the highest in Asia.
Additionally, a total of 4.1 million guns are unlicensed or not legally registered in Thailand.
In 2020, 29 people were also killed and another 58 wounded by a soldier who opened fire in a shopping mall in the province of Nakhon Ratchasima. EFE