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King, Queen ‘tremendously shaken’, hearts out to Korat

Their Majesties the King and Queen have extended deepest condolences over the mass shooting in Nakhon Ratchasima on Saturday.

A rogue Army sergeant-major killed 30 people and wounded more than 50 others before being himself gunned down by security forces.

The King in a message released on Tuesday (February 11) said he and the Queen were deeply saddened by the traumatic incident that claimed innocent lives and left others injured.

Saying they were “tremendously shaken by such a great loss”, Their Majesties offered condolences to the families of those killed and sympathy and admiration for those caught up in the event but stayed strong and patient and helped one another.

Their Majesties praised the police, Army officers, provincial administrators, doctors, nurses, volunteers, rescue foundations and other public and private organisations that responded to the crisis.

They said the police and military officers displayed not just bravery, decisiveness and a willingness to sacrifice but also operational expertise and careful attention to the safety of those at greatest risk.

The King and Queen said the unity of intent they witnessed, the public support for the authorities and the aid provided to the injured demonstrated the love and care shared among fellow humans and compatriots, which they called highly virtuous.

They expressed confidence that all Thais will be able to overcome the trauma stemming from the violence with the help of mindfulness and wisdom and to in turn make sacrifices for the sake of happiness, peace and order.

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Army chief General Apirat Kongsompong meanwhile made good on a pledge given the day before – when he publicly apologised for the soldier’s rampage and promised reforms in the military – announcing that a centre would be established by February 17 where lower ranks could file complaints about abuse by their supervising officers without fear of reprisal.

The Office of the Commander will be in charge of the centre, which will be open weekdays from 8am to 4.30pm, he said, and complaints arriving outside office hours will encounter an interactive voice response system.

Apirat reaffirmed that all information reported will be kept confidential and wrongdoings will be taken seriously.

The Channel 3HD news programme “Khao Sam Miti” on Wednesday reported that the Korat shooting spree stemmed from the sergeant-major’s dispute with his military supervisor and a woman relative, who had reportedly purportedly failed to repay him in full the money recouped from a property purchase financed by an Army welfare loan.

The show’s announcers claimed that at least 1,000 soldiers had been short-changed in the same way on property deals, and as of last June about 400 of them were stationed in Nakhon Ratchasima.

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