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

The Thaiger

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

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Chiang Mai

Man claims he was attacked and robbed by “foreigners”

Greeley Pulitzer

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Man claims he was attacked and robbed by “foreigners” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Twenty-four year old Theerapat Saen-in seen in hospital - Chiang Rai Times

A student in Chiang Mai says he was mugged by “foreigners from Europe.” Twenty-four year old Theerapat Saen-in posted his alleged ordeal on Thai social media earlier this week.

According to his post he was taking photographs at a view point on Doi Suthep when he was approached by “farangs.” He says they bashed him on the head with a piece of wood before being attacking him further.

Saen-in then allegedly fled into the woods, fearing the foreigners might chase him and continue their attack. In the process, he claims, he fell down an embankment, knocking himself unconscious.

When he regained consciousness he returned to the scene to find his camera equipment missing. His tripod, backpack and money had all been taken, local media reported.

He says he got help from other tourists in the area and was eventually taken to hospital in Chiang Mai. Doctors cared for his injuries, including six deep wounds to his head. Doctors said the head wounds were consistent with an attack with a solid object and confirmed to police that, based on the wounds, the man was assaulted.

Saen-in asks for cooperation from the public, especially in the event they notise anyone trying to sell or pawn camera equipment. He has also asked anyone with information to please contact police.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Crime

2 more suspects arrested in “wombs-for-hire” scandal

Greeley Pulitzer

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2 more suspects arrested in “wombs-for-hire” scandal | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Surrogacy was banned in Thailand in 2015 after revelations of abuses - AP

Officers of the Anti-Human Trafficking Division (ATHD) of the Royal Thai Police have arrested two more suspects in an illegal transnational commercial surrogacy ring, police said yesterday. 43 year old Kulisara Pomdet was arrested in Chanthaburi and 60 year old Jakkarat Kittiwanichkul in Chiang Mai on Friday night.

Police say the two were hired as brokers to lure Thai women to work as surrogate mothers. Jakkarat can speaks the languages of neighbouring countries and served as a translator for Kulisara during trips to those countries. A police source says the pair travelled between Thailand and Cambodia more than 100 times over the past two years.

On Thursday nine suspects, seven Thais and two Chinese, were arrested in joint raids in Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Sukhothai. They face charges of colluding in transnational criminal activities and engaging in commercial surrogacy, illegal under Thai law. The raids came after police found a gang of Chinese nationals was hiring Thai women as surrogate mothers.

The illegal surrogacy operation is believed to have started in 2012. At least 100 women across the country were hired as surrogate mothers, according to police. The surrogate mothers travelled to neighbouring countries for “assisted reproductive treatment” and returned to Thailand where they stayed until delivery. In some cases, they were sent to China, where they stayed until giving birth.

The deputy commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau says the probe followed a tip-off from the Department of Health Service Support. Investigators questioned women in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, who were hired as surrogates. They found that at least 15 babies born from assisted reproductive technologies were included in their household registrations,and that at least 50 babies from surrogate mothers had been taken out of the country. Assets seized from the nine include 16 vehicles with a combined value of 15 million baht, a house, and a Bangkok company worth about 20 million baht.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Chiang Rai

Heroin smuggler busted in Chiang Rai

Greeley Pulitzer

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Heroin smuggler busted in Chiang Rai | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Police examine the confiscated heroin - Chiang Rai Times

A man has been arrested in Chiang Rai’s airport attempting to smuggle heroin. 27 year old Jatuporn Saeuan was searched and detained before boarding a flight to Bangkok when security officers found his behaviour suspicious.

Security officers say Jatuporn “kept wandering back and forth in front of the entrance” to Mae Fah Luang Airport, so they asked demanded to inspect his luggage. His luggage was put through the airport x-ray and he went through the personal scanner.

When he raised his arms for the scan, they notised a yellow plastic bag tucked into the back of his trousers. Security staff opened the package and found it contained a white power. Test results quickly indicated the powder was a narcotic. and security called police.

Police told Thai media that Jatuporn admitted travelling to Myanmar to buy the heroin, sneaking across the border at Mae Sai, Chiang Rai into Myanmar’s Tachilek province. After buying the drug he sneaked back into Thailand with help from the dealer.

Jatuporn drove to Chiang Rai’s Mae Fah Luang Airport where he was subsequently arrested. He admits he planned to sell the heroin in Bangkok.

He has been charged with possession of an illegal narcotic with the intent to sell. Under Thai law, he could face the death penalty, though capital punishment is rare in Thailand. In reality he faces a fine of up to 100,000 baht fine and/or 10 years in prison.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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