February 8, 2016
BANGKOK (AFP) - Police negotiators laid siege to a house in the country's south Monday after a man allegedly shot dead four of his children following a dispute with his estranged wife.
The shocking spree is the latest murder rampage in a country where lovers' quarrels frequently escalate into fatal shootings, partly because of the easy availability of guns.
Police said the man barricaded himself inside his house in southern Trang province after murdering two sons and two daughters early on Monday morning.
"Police had to use a ladder into a bedroom to remove the bodies of the children," local police captain Wittawat Paiboon told AFP, adding that the man, who had locked himself in another room, had a long and troubled relationship with his estranged wife.
"They were two boys and two girls. They had been deliberately killed," he said, adding that the victims ranged from six to 16 years old.
Wittawat said the man was coherent when speaking to negotiators and did not appear to be drunk or on drugs.
Renowned to outsiders for its laid-back, welcoming vibe, Thailand is also a country awash with firearms where disputes are all too frequently settled with a bullet and a body.
Barely a week goes by without a new headline-grabbing killing, usually stemming from a humiliation -- or loss of "face" -- over a personal or business dispute.
High-profile cases last year included a woman executed by an angry lover in a mall, and a bus driver shooting a passenger in the chest because his victim had repeatedly criticised his road skills.
The Thai government does not provide a specific breakdown for annual gun murders outside of the country's deep south, where a local Muslim insurgency has killed more than 6,400 in the last decade.
But the Gunpolicy.org website, an online database of global gun statistics run by the University of Sydney's School of Public Health, believes Thailand has one of the highest gun homicide rates in Asia.
It estimates 3.48 murders per 100,000 people in Thailand, on a par with the United States.
According to the Interior Ministry, there are 6.1 million registered firearms in Thailand, a country with 67 million people.
GunPolicy.org puts the total number of firearms at closer to 10 million, once the thriving black market trade is counted.