Thai soldier kills nearly 20 in Nakhon Ratchasima | Sunday Observer

Thai soldier kills nearly 20 in Nakhon Ratchasima

Jakrapanth Thomma -BBC
Jakrapanth Thomm -BBC

A Thai soldier took hostages at a mall on Saturday after a shooting spree that left at least 20 people dead and 11 wounded, according to local media reports.

The soldier, identified as Jakrapanth Thomma, was reportedly holding as many as 16 people at the Terminal 21 mall in Nakhon Ratchasima, capital of the north-eastern province of the same name.

Troops from a special warfare unit and police commandos had been sent to the mall, the Bangkok Post reported, while the man’s mother was being brought from Chaiyaphum province in the hopes that she could convince him to surrender.

The soldier reportedly killed three people at his military camp in Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat, before stealing a Humvee and weapons and driving to the city, shooting at civilians along the way.

He fired shots outside the Terminal 21 mall before continuing his shooting spree inside.

“The gunman used a machine gun and shot innocent victims resulting in many injured and dead,” a police spokesperson said. The Bangkok Post quoted an official from the Erawan Centre, the nationwide emergency services dispatch centre, as saying there were “17 deaths, 14 wounded”.

Video posted on social media showed people fleeing in panic as the man opens fire outside the mall at around 6pm.

The attacker then fired at a cooking gas cylinder, setting off an explosion and fire, before he proceeded to shoot at shoppers inside the mall.

He was said to be holding the hostages on the fourth floor. Defence Ministry spokesman Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantrawanich, who identified the suspect, said police and military units had locked down the mall and the surrounding area.

The motives for the shooting spree were not clear.

According to the Bangkok Post, the people killed at the soldier’s base were his commander, another soldier and a 63-year-old woman.

-The National, UAE