THREE children were among eight family members shot dead early Tuesday in what appeared to be an execution-style killing by several gunmen in Thailand’s Krabi province.
Police said three others, including two girls, suffered serious injuries after the group of about six men stormed the house of a village headman over a “personal dispute”.
According to Bangkok Post, the armed men dressed in camouflage gear arrived at the house of Vorayuth Sangklang, a village head in Ban Klang, in two vehicles at around 4pm on Monday.
Masquerading as government officials wanting to conduct an operation, they then demanded entry to the house to search the property, also warning its occupants not to leave the vicinity.
At the time, however, the village head was not home. The gunmen reportedly waited until he arrived at 8pm. According to witnesses, he was handcuffed.
Pol Capt Suwit Kawpreecha, an investigator in the case, said the family members were killed at around midnight, most of them shot in the head.
Neighbours reported hearing the gunshots shortly after 12am. The killers then made off with Vorayuth’s Toyota car.
Police said they were alerted to the massacre at about 1.30am, The Nation reported, after which they found five people dead at the home while another three, including Vorayuth, showed signs of life before they were rushed to the hospital, where they died.
“They were found this morning. Eight people died, three were injured. They were all found at the house,” Manat In-prom, an officer at the Ao Luk police station in the province, told Reuters.
“We believe there were five or six criminals.”
The South China Morning Post (via the AFP) quoted deputy national police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen as saying the victims came from a local Muslim family.
Thailand has a high rate of gun ownership and many people carry guns for self-protection, but such mass shootings are very rare.
According to the Interior Ministry, there are 6.1 million registered firearms in the country of 67 million people, but there are also many unregistered guns in circulation.
According to 2016 data from the University of Washington, Thailand had the highest reported rate of gun-related deaths out of 10 countries in Asia, about 50 percent higher than the Philippines, which came second on the list.
Krabi is most commonly known as a destination of choice for holiday-goers seeking scenic beaches, but the mass murder on Monday was in an area unfrequented by tourists.
Additional reporting by Reuters