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Families of children killed in a massacre in Thailand last week are in mourning


Over the weekend in rural northeastern Thailand, families said goodbye to their loved ones killed in the deadliest mass killing carried out by a single person. On Thursday, a former police officer used a gun and a knife to kill 36 people, 24 of them small children, at a day care center in the rural township of Uthai Sawan. There were so many funerals they had to be shared among three temples. Families brought offerings to place near the coffins of their loved ones - baby bottles, juice boxes, toy cars, sticky rice. To hear more about how people are coming to grips with what happened, we're joined by Hathairat Phaholtap. She's the editor of The Isaan Record, a news organization in northeastern Thailand. Thank you so much for joining us.

HATHAIRAT PHAHOLTAP: Thank you, Leila, to have me.

FADEL: I just want to start by asking how you're doing, how the community is doing. I mean, the pictures from the funeral ceremonies, especially for the children, have just been so heartbreaking to look at, to see.

PHAHOLTAP: Yeah. I interviewed at least 10 families, but one family was in shock...

FADEL: Yeah.

PHAHOLTAP: ...After they lost, like, their loved ones because...

FADEL: Who did they lose?

PHAHOLTAP: A daughter who got pregnant, 8 months old. So...

FADEL: She had - she was 8 months pregnant?


FADEL: Yeah.

PHAHOLTAP: And the family was ready to see their grandson, grandchildren. But, you know...

FADEL: They'll never meet their grandchild.

PHAHOLTAP: Yeah. The mother told me that she has no tear to drop because the tear dropping inside her heart.

FADEL: You know, a tragedy like this always brings up questions around guns. And Thailand has a comparatively high rate of civilian gun ownership for the region. And security officers have even easier access to weapons, right? I mean, this man had a 9-millimeter pistol that he got legally, that he used. What are politicians saying about how this massacre might change the country's approach to gun ownership?

PHAHOLTAP: You know, like, when we interviewed the commander in chief of police, they said these situation make him rethink about the gun control policy because, you know, as anyone know in this country, authorities, even, like, leader - local leader, can get access to guns easy. And also, general - like, general people can get access to gun online as well, like - as you - like, as some people know, like, in Thailand, there are 10 million gun, like - but including legal and illegal as well. I think if the government is not, you know, get involved with guns seriously, it's going to - you know, this situation will happen again, again and again.

FADEL: Thai journalist Hathairat Phaholtap, the editor of The Isaan Record. Thanks for your time.

PHAHOLTAP: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.