MASS PANIC IN THE SHOPPING MALL OF NAKHON RATCHASIMA, THAILAND AFTER A THAI SOLDIER HAS SHOT AT LEAST 12 PEOPLE DEAD AND CURRENTLY HOLDING SEVERAL HOSTAGES
A Thai soldier went on a bloody rampage in northeastern Thailand Saturday, killing at least 20 people, injuring more than 30 others and live-streaming part of the mass shooting on social media.
Thai authorities say the shooter, Jackraphanth Thomma, a 32-year-old sergeant, opened fire at different spots in Nakhom Ratchasima, including a Buddhist temple. He drove to a popular shopping mall, packed with shoppers celebrating a long weekend to the Thai city of 140,000 northeast of Bangkok, which is also known as Korat.
Once inside the mall, Thomma allegedly targeted shoppers, taking about a dozen hostages, according to unconfirmed reports. He had earlier posted on Facebook “No one can escape death” and “Should I give up?” according to the Associated Press. The posts were almost immediately removed from the site.
For several hours after the late afternoon shooting spree began, police and elite military units surrounded the mall where CCTV footage showed the shooter, wearing military-style combat clothes and toting an assault rifle. Police and soldiers stormed the mall just before midnight, rescuing hundreds of people as they continued their hunt for the gunman. They released photos of officers escorting people to the exits, but they gave no information about the shooter’s whereabouts.
Among the victims was a doctor who was shot while he was tending to an injured person, said Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.
The attack started at about 3:30 in the afternoon at the Suatham Phithak military compound where Thomma allegedly shot and killed his commanding officer Col Anantharot Krassae, according to the Bangkok Post. Thai media also said that a 63-year-old woman and another soldier were killed at the military compound before the suspect fled in the Humvee.
Thai police said Thomma, angry over a land dispute, stole weapons, ammunition and a Humvee from the compound, before heading to the shopping mall.
CCTV footage shows him inside the shopping center with a raised rifle, and video taken outside the mall and posted to social media showed people taking cover in a parking lot amidst the sound of gunshots.
Other footage showed a fire outside the building, with some reports saying it was caused by a gas canister that exploded when it was hit with a bullet. One of the suspect’s social media posts showed an image of himself with the fire in the background.
Facebook took the page down. “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,” said the social media giant yesterday.
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