BANGKOK (Reuters) - A former policeman killed 34 people including 22 children in a gun rampage at a daycare centre in eastern Thailand on Thursday, later shooting dead his wife and child at their home before turning his weapon on himself, police said.
It is one of the worst mass killings in recent Thai history.
Here are some other recent high-profile gun crimes in Thailand and facts about its gun laws and culture.
- In February 2020, a soldier angry over a property deal gone sour killed at least 29 people and wounded 57 in a rampage that spanned four locations in and around the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima.
Most of the victims were at the Terminal 21 shopping centre where the 32-year-old shooter held out against an overnight siege with an assault rifle and ammunition stolen from his army base. He was later shot dead.
- Just 10 days after that mass shooting, a man killed his ex-wife and wounded another person at a shopping centre in Bangkok.
- In June 2021, a former soldier fired gunshots in a coronavirus field hospital near Bangkok, killing a 54-year-old patient after earlier shooting dead a convenience store employee. The 23-year-old gunman had believed the patients in the hospital were drug addicts and said he hated drug addicts.
- Gun laws are quite strict in Thailand. Illegal possession of a firearm carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to 20,000 baht ($536), but gun ownership is high compared with some other countries in southeast Asia.
- Illegal weapons, many brought in from strife-torn countries, are common but mass shootings remain rare.
- The estimated total number of guns held, legally and illegally, by civilians in Thailand was 10.3 million in 2017, or one for about every seven citizens. Of those, about 4 million were illegal.
- The annual number of deaths resulting from firearms was 1,292 in 2019, down from 2,953 deaths a decade earlier, Gunpolicy.org said.
- Applicants for a gun owner's licence must give a genuine reason to possess a firearm, such as for hunting or to be part of a collection. The applicant must be aged at least 20 and first undergo background checks which consider personal conduct, living condition, income and any criminal records.
- Thais often complain online about a perceived decrease in personal safety and say guns are idolised by some as symbols of power and privilege because they are expensive and not easy to obtain legally.
($1 = 37.3100 baht)
(Reporting by Bangkok bureau; Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Edmund Blair)