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Gunman killed in Korat shopping centre – 25 dead, more than 40 injured

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Police report that the Thai army soldier, who shot and killed at least 25 people in a shooting spree in the Korat shopping centre, has been shot dead in an assault by the Hanuman special forces division. Police sources said the 32 year old gunman was shot dead in the “Zone A” area of the shopping mall basement. Another news source is reporting that he was killed near a Foodland supermarket on the basement floor.

The siege inside the Nakhon Ratchasima shopping mall lasted more than 17 hours before the gunman was eventually shot and killed.

The special forces ‘Hanuman’ unit stormed the Terminal 21 shopping mall as dark descended on Korat, the largest city in the north east Thai province of Nakhon Ratchasima. They evacuated hundreds of confused shoppers and workers last night as they continued to hunt for the gunman who was holed up inside the mall, reportedly on the 4th floor at the time, after killing at least 25 people and injuring 31. The shopping centre has 7 floors.

In Thailand it was the holy Makha Bucha Day Buddhist holiday and the western-style shopping centre was packed with locals enjoying the festivities and special celebrations put on inside the mall.

Just before 3am this morning sporadic rounds of gunfire were again heard inside the building. At the same time, about five ambulances arrived at the mall to ferry injured people to local hospitals.

The 32 year old Thai army officer started killing people when he fired randomly at civilians as he drove in a stolen Humvee 4-wheel drive he’d stolen from his army base, to the Terminal 21 shopping centre late yesterday afternoon.

Many more people have been shot and killed inside the mall. The gunman even live-streamed his shootings and captured the mayhem on Facebook before his site was taken down around 7.20pm.

Kul Kaemthong, a cleaner who says he rushed into a room in the 4th floor food court with about 40 others to hide before being evacuated hours later said he was terrified.

“I was really terrified. At that moment, I could not think about anything. When we heard a gunshot, everybody started running for our lives.”

This morning, four more bodies were found on the Ground floor inside the shopping centre.

The massacre is the worst mass shooting in Thailand, a style of event usually associated with mass gun killings in the United States. But Thailand has a population of 69 million people who possess approximately 10 million guns. Thailand already has one of the highest gun homicide rates in Asia. The situation in Korat comes just a month after a Lop Buri gunman, later identified as a local school principal, killed three a people at a gold shop in a suburban shopping mall.

How events unfolded…

The carnage began around 3.30pm when the Thai Army soldier shot dead his commander and two others at the Surathampithak army base in Nakhon Ratchasima, north east Thailand, before stealing weapons, ammunition and a 4-wheel drive Humvee. He is said to be carrying an HK33 assault rifle along with other weapons.

The slain commander was identified as 48 year old Col Anantharot Krasae. Thai media reported that the gunman had some sort of conflict over money with his commanding officer, that escalated into an argument. The reported motive has not been verified by authorities at this stage. A 63 year old woman was also killed at the camp, along with another soldier.

The gunman then headed into town, shooting randomly at citizens along the way, as he made his way to the Korat Terminal 21 mall. The army base is about 14 kilometres from the Terminal 21 shopping centre.

The suspect was identified early as 32 year old Sgt-Maj Jakrapanth Thomma, an ammunition battalion officer working for the 22nd Ammunition Battalion, according to defence ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Kongcheep Tantravanich speaking to Thai PBS World.

Around 6.30pm there was a flurry of social media showing the soldier getting out of the stolen 4-wheel drive in front of the mall and firing a volley of gunshots, sending people scurrying for cover. The gunfire was ringing out clearly on the streamed footage.

The gunman fired at a cooking gas cylinder. It exploded and burst into fire. He paused for a moment and took a selfie with the fire in the background.

The gunman’s Facebook page was taken offline a few moments later, around 7.20pm. Facebook later confirmed that it had removed the account and “would also take down any other violating content related to this attack”.

Facebook announced in a statement… “Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the community affected by this tragedy in Thailand. 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.”

The Hanuman unit responded swiftly and arrived from Bangkok by helicopter. They quickly had the shopping centre and environs in a complete lockdown. Police also brought the suspect’s mother from Chaiyaphum province, just to the north of Nakhon Ratchasima, hoping she may be able to assist in negotiations.

Around 8.30pm the Unit said they were preparing to “engage” the shooter inside the shopping centre. In the meantime they helped evacuate as many people as they combed the lower floors of the mall.

“It’s still unclear on which floor or where the gunman is in hiding.”

It has since been reported that the assailant is holding 16 people hostage on the fourth floor of the mall.

At 11.30pm a police spokesperson announced that they had taken control of the Ground, 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors of the mall.

During the evening the army asked local media and netizens to stop streaming live coverage in order to “avoid giving the suspect information about official activities”.

Gunman killed in Korat shopping centre - 25 dead, more than 40 injured | News by Thaiger

 

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