At least 21 people have been killed after a Thai soldier – who is still on the loose – went on a shooting spree and took hostages inside a shopping mall, sharing selfies on social media during his carnage.
The gunman started his shooting spree around 3pm local time (0800 GMT) Saturday at a Buddhist temple and then a busy shopping center Terminal 21 in Korat, northeast Thailand. There he opened indiscriminate fire at visitors, killing and injuring dozens.
The gunman was still on the loose by 8am Sunday, believed to be holed up somewhere inside the mall. It was unclear if he was still holding anyone hostage.
Thai armoury: the gunman, who is still at large & possibly holed up inside shopping mall after killing nearly 2 dozens of civilians & some authorities, has stolen— ShareKao แชร์ข่าว (@toom_b) February 8, 2020
3 x HK33 rifles plus 736 bullets
2 x M60 automatic machine guns with 2 100-rounds belts
& a Humvee #กราดยิงโคราช pic.twitter.com/M6sFuQ8nGk
The suspect was identified as junior army officer Jakraphanth Thomma – a sniper and a shooting instructor in his unit, who has completed a special forces program. Just prior to the carnage he killed his commander and two fellow soldiers, and stole weapons, ammunition and a Humvee from his military base.
In a shootout with SWAT at the shopping mall’s parking lot during a failed anti-terror raid on Sunday night, the gunman killed one special forces serviceman and injured two others, bringing the death toll to at least 21.
While local media said all civilians have been evacuated out of the mall and surrounding areas, Thai health minister expressed concerns that there could still be civilians inside, including injured people. Videos shared on social media showed chaos and panic as people fled the scene.
During the rampage, the suspect reportedly posted updates to his Facebook page, such as “No one can escape death,” and “Should I give up?” Facebook deleted the suspect’s account, denying reports that the murder spree was livestreamed on their platform.