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Thai soldier who killed 20 shot dead in shopping mall siege


Sunday February 9, 2020


Thai security forces evacuate people who were stranded inside the Terminal 21 shopping mall following a gun battle, to try to stop a soldier on a rampage after a mass shooting, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand (Reuters) - Thai security forces on Sunday shot and killed a rogue soldier who went on a rampage in a shopping mall in a northeastern city, ending an overnight siege after a series of attacks that left at least 20 people dead.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul confirmed the soldier had been shot dead at the Terminal 21 mall in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima.

“Thank you police and army for ending the situation. Shooter shot dead!!!” Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said in a post on Facebook. Police and the army also said he had been killed.

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Police have identified the suspected shooter as 32-year-old soldier Jakrapanth Thomma.

The killings began at around 3 p.m. (0800 GMT) on Saturday when the soldier opened fire in a house before moving to an army camp and then to the mall, posting messages on Facebook as he went.

Thai media said the suspected shooter had worked at an army base close to Nakhon Ratchasima, which is about 250 km (155 miles) from the capital Bangkok. Before the attack, Jakrapanth had posted on his Facebook account that he was out for vengeance — but he did not say for what.

A provincial health official told a news conference that a total of 20 people had been killed and 42 wounded, revising down an earlier figure of 21 dead given by other officials.

‘IT APPEARS HE WENT MAD’

“We don’t know why he did this. It appears he went mad,” Defense Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanit told Reuters.

Overnight, soldiers and police stormed into the mall and escorted hundreds of trapped people to safety.

“It was frightening because I could hear the occasional gunshot...we waited a long time for the police to come and help us, many hours,” said Suvanarat Jirattanasakul, 27, her voice trembling after she emerged.

The mall was busy with shoppers on a long weekend for the Buddhist Makha Bucha holiday.

CCTV footage from inside the mall posted on social media showed the gunman dressed in black and wearing a mask, his gun slung over his shoulder with no sign of other people around.

Facebook (FB.O) said it had removed the suspect’s account.

“There is no place on Facebook for people who commit this kind of atrocity, nor do we allow people to praise or support this attack,” a Facebook representative said in a statement.

Major shootings are rare in the Southeast Asian country other than in the far south, where a decades-old insurgency persists.

Additional reporting by Athit Perawongmetha and Jiraporn Kuhakan in Nakhon Ratchasima, Patpicha Tanakasempipat, Panarat Thepgumpanat and Juarawee Kittisilpa in Bangkok; Writing by Kay Johnson and Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Daniel Wallis, David Gregorio and Jacqueline Wong

 



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