Tens of thousands of mostly residents of Nakhon Ratchasima attended a Buddhist merit making ceremony in Korat today to pay tribute to the late King Narai the Great, founder and heroine of the north eastern province, Thao Suranaree, during the early days of the Chakri Dynasty, and to remember the victims of the mass shooting last Saturday.
The gunman was eventually cornered and shot at 9am last Sunday morning.
10,000 monks attended the ceremony, from temples around Nakhon Ratchasima and neighbouring provinces Chaiyaphum, Buri Ram and Surin. They chanted prayers to bless the province and received alms from residents.
The alms presentation to the 10,000 monks was the second such ‘cleansing’ event of its kind, and was jointly organised by the local officials and the private sector to “instil a sense of unity and belonging among the residents of the province” following the horrific events on the Buddhist Makha Bucha day.
Meanwhile, this week the Terminal 21 mall also held a merit-making ceremony before reopening its doors on Thursday to provide moral support to shop operators, shoppers and local residents. Buddhist monks again chanted prayers to bring good luck for the city and the shopping mall. Over 200 monks received alms on the ground floor of the mall, in the Eiffel Square. The event was attended by government officials and a large number of locals who were still coming to terms with the violence.
Free food and drinks were offered to participants by the royally-sponsored makeshift kitchen and food shop operators. Students from Nakhonratchasima Technical College help staff some of the communal activities.
Many shops offered 50% discounts in a sign of good will and to try and attract customers back to the mall when it re-opened on the Thursday afternoon. The Nakhon Ratchasima governor Wichian Chantharanothai led officials and local residents to worship ay the Thao Suranaree monument to ward off bad spirits.
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Prayut visits Korat, offers compensation to shooting victims, families
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha went to Korat, in the northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima province, scene of the shooting rampage earlier this month that left 30 dead and 58 wounded. He met with people and families affected by the massacre and offered compensation totalling tens of millions of baht. He and accompanying ministers met locals after praying for peace at the Thao Suranaree Monument, a memorial to a Thai heroine.
Prayut distributed financial aid and amulets at Nakhon Ratchasima City Hall to the injured, and to the families of those who died. The compensation from the Victims of Disaster Fund totalled 34.8 million baht.
The families of 24 out of 27 of the dead received one million baht each. Nineteen of 21 who suffered serious injury received 200,000 baht each,and 32 out of 36 people who suffered lesser injuries got 100,000 baht.
There is also compensation under the Victim Compensation Act. The Nakhon Ratchasima provincial office is investigating damages to determine compensation for property damaged in the incident.
The PM later travelled to the Korat Terminal 21 mall, the scene of much of the slaughter, to inspect the place and boost the morale of shop operators and the public.
SOURCE: The NationKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
A week after Korat massacre, questions remain
A week after a rogue soldier went on a shooting spree, killing 29 and injuring 58, no one seems willing to take responsibility for the Army’s lack of security, which allowed the man to raid an armoury, steal weapons of war and kill and maim innocent civilians, Thailand Today reports.
The massacre has prompted many, from all walks of life, to call for army reform; for analysis to identify the causes of the horrifying incident and prevent it happening again; for the resignation of PM and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and army chief Apirat Kongsompong; and for a truly transparent investigation (with neutral party participation).
A professor at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science told Thai online media outlet The Standard that the army must take responsibility. If the army and the government don’t handle the situation correctly, he warned, it could turn into a political hot-button issue driven by social media, which the defence minister, army chief, and others would find difficult to manage and might damage their careers.
“This tragedy requires the acceptance of responsibility, not just sending representatives to lay wreaths at funerals or presenting compensation money to the relatives of the victims.”
“We’re calling for the army to cleanse its forces of dirt. Society is today giving the defence minister and army chief an opportunity, so they should not shy away from taking responsibility. Even if society is silent and not making any demands right now, one day this issue will spill onto the streets.”
In a press conference on Tuesday, reporters asked army chief Apirat whether he would resign to assume responsibility for the shooting. He replied that he wouldn’t resign over an individual’s wrongdoing.
“The shooter might have been an officer of the armed forces but what he did was certainly not an army mission, and he was driven by personal reasons. I have responsibility for the missions I command and have displayed responsibility in every position I’ve held and all the crises I’ve been through, from the beginning until now, when I am not far away from retirement.”
“The moment that he fired at innocent people, he became a criminal, not a soldier anymore,” Apirat told the press as he tearfully apologised. He admitted some army units were lax in guarding weapons and ammunition and this posed a risk that armouries could be robbed. He also says he has set about to clean up the businesses that operate from within the military infrastructure.
SOURCE: Thailand TodayKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Korat shooter video goes viral
A video, purportedly showing the soldier in last weekend’s mass shooting killing an army private before taking guns and ammunition from an armoury, has gone viral today. It comes after a week of editorials and public condemnation of the behaviour of netizens and media who shared gruesome images of the slaughter.
The three minute clip, the authenticity of which has not been confirmed, was reportedly obtained from rescue workers in in Nakhon Ratchasima. The shooter himself streamed much of the massacre as it happened. The Thaiger chooses not to share any of the video or stills.
The video appears to be a compilation. The first clip, which is without sound, shows a man resembling the gunman, Jakrapanth Thomma, armed with a shotgun and walking to the armoury of the Surathampitham military base. He can be seen talking to 23 year old Private Metha Lertsiri, who was guarding the site last Saturday afternoon when the massacre began. Metha walks into a nearby room and the soldier fires two shots into his back. The private falls to the ground. The soldier then fires shots at the lock of the door to the next room and opens it.
Metha was Jakrapanth’s fourth victim. He had already shot three people dead nearby before taking several weapons and ammunition from the armoury and beginning the rampage that cost the lives of another 25 people.
The second clip shows the cordoned-off scene at Wat Pa Sattharuam monastery and some of the spots where nine people were gunned down
News reports at the time said that after Jakrapanth took the guns, he stole a Humvee, but the army insists it was just a modified truck. He then went to the monastery and began randomly shooting passers-by, killing nine before driving to Terminal 21 shopping mall in downtown Nakhon Ratchasima.
The third video clip was taken in front of the mall at night. Gunfire can be heard from inside and rescue workers are seen carrying a woman and escorting a man to get medical help. Volleys of gunfire rang out before dawn on Sunday, hours before forces entered the ground floor of the mall where the gunman had holed up. Police commandos shot him dead around 9am, ending the rampage that lasted more than 17 hours.
The death of the Private Metha, a single father, left his four-year-old son orphaned. The army yesterday posthumously promoted him to the rank of sergeant for his dedication to duty.
SOURCE: Bangkok PostKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
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