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Shooting spree in Korat, at least 12 killed

A solider in his early 30s went on rampage shooting dead at least 12 people and wounding nearly 40 others in downtown area of the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima’s Muang district on Saturday.

Sergeant-Major First Class Jakrapanth Thomma, a non-commissioned officer at Surathampitak Camp, started the spree by shooting dead his 48-year-old commanding officer Colonel Anantaroj Krasae and a female relative in her 60s at their home in Tambon Nong Chabok reportedly over a debt dispute at around 3pm.

Jakrapanth then broke into the military camp’s armory to steal several guns and ammunition while shooting at some fellow soldiers there. As he fled in a stolen humvee, he also opened fires at police and temple-goers on Makha Puja Day outside Wat Pa Sattharam before he went to the Terminal 21 shopping mall around 6pm.

During the spree, he also shot at a gas cylinder outside the mall resulting in an explosion and fire and take a selfie to post on his Facebook page. In one post, he was seen in a clip saying he was tired and his finger nearly cramped from pulling the trigger. In other post, he wrote a Thai message with a black-colour background saying the three deaths he caused were for revenge and the rest for self-defence. His Facebook then went offline around 7pm.

As this article went online, the suspect – believed to hold 16 people hostage at the mall – is still at large. Police sealed a two-kilometer radius from the shopping center to prevent people from going into the area and told residents in the area to stay home as to allow the authorities’ works on this case to go smoothly.  As many people, initially trapped at the mall, were aided by officers to come out to safety around 11.30pm, it was still unknown how many were still inside the building.

The shocking incident in Nakhon Ratchasima – also known as Korat – captured the Thai social media users’ attention, hence the hashtag #กราดยิงโคราช (Shooting Spree at Korat) was widely used along with the hashtag #savekorat by those praying for safety of those who were still trapped at the mall.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha expressed condolences to the families of those killed and urged officials to take care of the families of those who were deceased as well as the wounded victims. He also instructed the officers that were at the mall to arrest the suspect speedily, Government Spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul put out an appeal on his Facebook page for people to donate blood at hospitals in the area, while Public Health Region 9 inspector-general Dr Pongkasem Khaimuk reported the shooting spree caused 37 injuries – 16 of whom in critical condition. As of 10pm, Defence Ministry spokesman Lt-Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich said the number of deaths from this shooting might even be 20.

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