Thailand in mourning: Hundreds gather to honor the lives of children killed in Uthai Sawan massacre

Hundreds of people gathered this Saturday in temples in northeast thailandoffering candles, toys and prayers to commemorate the lives of more than 30 victims, mostly childrenof an attack with guns and knives that shocked the world.

Most of the children 2 to 5 years old, were stabbed to death on Thursdaywhile adults were shot, police said after one of the world’s worst recent death tolls of children in a massacre by a single killer.

At the Si Uthai temple in the Uthai Sawan Village, Relatives of the dead joined a devastated community to pay their respects to those killed by a former Bangkok policemanwho had been suspended from duty after admitting to using methamphetamine.

They lit candles before coffins draped with floral wreaths and framed photos of the deceased, including little boy Pattarawat Jamnongnid, dressed in a pink sports shirt, who was one of two child victims nicknamed “Captain” after a famous actor.

His mother, Daoreung Jamnongnid, a 40-year-old factory worker, said her only son was energetic and talkative.

At 2 years and 10 months, she was the youngest victim and already knew the alphabet, she said. “She was so smart. She liked to watch documentaries with his father”.

The last victims of the former police his wife and son were at his housebefore he pointed his gun at himself.

Police identified the attacker as Panya Khamrap, 34 years old, a former police sergeant facing trial on a drug charge. It was not clear if Panya was still using drugs, although the policy says his autopsy found no evidence of drug use at the time of his death.

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Police were interviewing 180 people, Deputy Police Chief Surachet Hakpan said.

When asked about the killer’s motive, he told reporters it was “because of his constant stress… his family, his money and his legal cases. So he acted aggressively.”

Surachet said police were working with the government to take a closer look at the issuance of firearms licenses in Thailand.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was concerned about trauma in the community after the tragedysaid his spokeswoman, Anucha Burapachaisri, on Saturday.

“The prime minister asked everyone to support each other and They will overcome this brutal loss together.Anucha said.

Three boys and two girls survived the attack and all but one were in hospital, police said.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn visited the hospital where the injured were taken on Friday night. He said that he was deeply saddened and expressed regret that he was “an evil incident”.

“There are no other words to describe this feeling,” he said. “I want to give them all the moral support to be strong, so that the souls of those children can have a sense of relief that their families will stay strong and they will be able to move on.”

Kittisak Polprakan, 29, who witnessed the killing spree, described Panya as calm when he left the nursery after having stabbed 22 children with a large curved blade.

Photo: Reuters

“I was so calm,” he said. “There was no noise, no screaming, nothing. It was only him who came out.”

Police were seen questioning residents on Saturday near the attacker’s home about 3 km (2 miles) from the deadliest attack.

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In front of the nursery, people had left toy flowers and toy trucks, as offerings to the spirits of the dead.

Funeral preparations were being made at Wat Rat Samakee, with hundreds of people dressed in black.

Earlier in the day, emotions ran high, with family members crying as saffron-robed monks chanted.

Villagers sat on rugs with folded hands in front of a series of coffins adorned with flowers and portraits of smiling children, killed in the former policeman’s rampage.

A large toy sports car was placed over one of the coffins, lined with gold cloth emblazoned with Buddhist symbols.

A woman who lost two 3-year-old nephewswas seen crying as she knelt, her palms pressed against one of her coffins.

Photo: Reuters

Channel 8 television broadcast live on Saturday what it said was the cremation of the killer at a temple in neighboring Udon Thani province, attended by only a few people.

Three monks sang as a woman the network identified as her mother wept and said her last words in front of a white coffin.

“In the next life, may you be reborn as a good person, not a bad one,” the woman said.

A crematorium worker then lit incense sticks and said a short prayer before lighting the flame and closing the door, as smoke billowed out.

The woman, who identified herself as “Grandma Duang”, had asked the media to convey her sorrow for the dead.

“I’m thinking of them,” he said, his face blurred to protect his identity. “My heart is almost broken.”

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