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Thai soldier's killing spree left 26 dead, 57 wounded

The soldier was killed by armed forces after an overnight siege at the Terminal 21 shopping center in the city.

Forensic police prepare to enter the Terminal 21 mall, where a mass shooting took place and the gunman is currently still hiding, in the Thai northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima on 9 February 2020. Picture: AFP

BANGKOK – A Thai soldier who went on a rampage in a northeastern city that ended in a standoff in a packed shopping mall killed 26 people and wounded at least 52, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Sunday.

The soldier was motivated by a grudge over a land deal in which he felt he had been cheated, said Prayuth, who traveled to the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima to visit wounded survivors.

The soldier was killed by armed forces after an overnight siege at the Terminal 21 shopping center in the city.

Thai security forces on Sunday shot and killed a rogue soldier who went on a rampage in a shopping mall in a northeastern city, ending an overnight siege after a series of attacks.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul confirmed the soldier had been shot dead at the Terminal 21 mall in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima.

“Thank you police and army for ending the situation. Shooter shot dead!!!” Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said in a post on Facebook. Police and the army also said he had been killed.

Police have identified the suspected shooter as 32-year-old soldier Jakrapanth Thomma.

The killings began at around 3 pm (0800 GMT) on Saturday when the soldier opened fire in a house before moving to an army camp and then to the mall, posting messages on Facebook as he went.

Thai media said the suspected shooter had worked at an army base close to Nakhon Ratchasima, which is about 250 km (155 miles) from the capital Bangkok. Before the attack, Jakrapanth had posted on his Facebook account that he was out for vengeance — but he did not say for what.

A provincial health official told a news conference that a total of 20 people had been killed and 42 wounded, revising down an earlier figure of 21 dead given by other officials.

‘IT APPEARS HE WENT MAD’

“We don’t know why he did this. It appears he went mad,” Defense Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanit told Reuters.

Overnight, soldiers and police stormed into the mall and escorted hundreds of trapped people to safety.

“It was frightening because I could hear the occasional gunshot...we waited a long time for the police to come and help us, many hours,” said Suvanarat Jirattanasakul, 27, her voice trembling after she emerged.

The mall was busy with shoppers on a long weekend for the Buddhist Makha Bucha holiday.

CCTV footage from inside the mall posted on social media showed the gunman dressed in black and wearing a mask, his gun slung over his shoulder with no sign of other people around.

Facebook (FB.O) said it had removed the suspect’s account.

“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,” a Facebook representative said in a statement.

Major shootings are rare in the Southeast Asian country other than in the far south, where a decades-old insurgency persists.

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