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Thailand shooting: Soldier kills 20 in gun rampage

A soldier has killed 20 people and injured many more in a gun rampage in the Thai city of Nakhon Ratchasima.

Jakraphanth Thomma, a junior officer, killed his commanding officer before stealing weapons from a military camp, a defence spokesman told BBC Thai.

The suspect then drove to the city centre and entered a shopping complex, where he is believed to be holed up.

The suspect, whose motives remain unclear, posted images of his attack on social media sites.

What is the situation now?

Authorities have sealed off the Terminal 21 shopping centre in Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat, as they try to track down the suspect.

Troops and police have entered the building and there have been reports of more gunshots.

A selfie of suspect Jakraphanth Thomma, taken from his Facebook page
Image captionSuspect Jakraphanth Thomma is said to be holed up in the shopping centre

Defence ministry spokesman Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich said hundreds of people had been brought out of the complex safely, but there could be dozens still in the building.

A tweet from security forces said the ground floor had now been cleared.

The Bangkok Post reported earlier that the suspect, who it said was 32 years old, had taken hostages, but this has not been officially confirmed.

The suspect’s mother has been brought to the shopping centre to try to persuade him to give himself up.

One of the people freed told the BBC how she and others hid in a bathroom on the fourth floor, before fleeing to the second and hiding under a restaurant table for three hours, hearing at least four gunshots before she saw some soldiers and could get to safety.

Gen Kongcheep earlier confirmed 20 people had been killed so far.

How did the attack unfold?

It began in the late afternoon at the Suatham Phithak military camp, where the commanding officer, named by the Bangkok Post as Col Anantharot Krasae, was killed.

The Post said a 63-year-old woman and another soldier were also killed there.

Map

The suspect seized arms and ammunition from the camp before taking a Humvee-type vehicle.

He then opened fire at a number of sites before arriving at the Terminal 21 shopping centre.

Local media footage appears to show the suspect getting out of his vehicle and firing shots as people flee.

CCTV footage shows him inside the shopping centre with a raised rifle.

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 features an image of himself with the fire in the background.

A fire at the shopping centre
Image captionA fire at the shopping centre appeared to have been caused by a gas canister that was shot at

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is following developments and expressed condolences to the families of those killed, a spokeswoman said.

The public health minister has put out an appeal for people to donate blood at hospitals in the area.

Thai police put a wanted poster on their Facebook page
Image captionThai police put a wanted poster on their Facebook page

What did the suspect post on social media?

He posted on his social media accounts during the attack, with one post on Facebook asking whether he should surrender.

He had earlier posted an image of a pistol with three sets of bullets, along with the words “it is time to get excited” and “nobody can avoid death”.

Facebook has now taken the page down.

It said: “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.”

Per: BBC

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