Thailand: Soldier kills at least 20, injures 31, sparks manhunt

Thailand: Soldier kills at least 20, injures 31, sparks manhunt
Armed Thai soldiers are on guard behind a defensive line after a suspected Thai soldier opened fire in a rampage at the Terminal 21, a shopping mall in Nakhon Ratchasima province, Thailand, on Saturday. Photo by Narong Sangnak/EPA-EFE

Feb. 8 (UPI) -- A Thai soldier opened fire at multiple locations near Bangkok on Saturday, killing at least 20 people, injuring 31, and leading police on a manhunt as he holed up in a shopping mall.

Lt. Gen. Thanya Kriatisarn, commander of the Second Army Region, identified the suspect as Sgt. Maj. Jakraphanth Thomma, 32, of the Surathampithak camp.


A Defense Ministry spokesman told BBC Thai that Thomma, a junior officer, stole a gun and ammunition from a military camp after attacking his commanding officer. He continued his attack at the Terminal 21 shopping center in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima, northeast of Bangkok, where he is now believed to be holed up.

The suspect appeared in local media footage to be opening fire after getting out of a Humvee in front of a Terminal 21 shopping center in the Muang district as people fled. Other footage showed a fire outside the building and some reports said that a gas canister was shot at causing the fire.

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Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Kongcheep Tantrawanit said 20 deaths had been confirmed and another 31 people were injured, some seriously.


Of the 20 dead, 16 died on the spot, Thailand's Ministry of Health announced. Of the 31 injured, four were undergoing surgery and six were in intensive care.

The gunman killed some people at the army base before he drove the stolen Humvee to the mall.

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Police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen said Thomma fatally shot a soldier and woman at the military barracks and a third person was injured.

Phathanacharoen added that investigators believe a dispute over a land deal payment may have sparked the shooting, but Tantrawinit said the cause is still unknown.

"We don't know why he did this," Tantrawanit said. "It appears he went mad."

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Authorities closed down the shopping center as they searched for the suspect.

A spokeswoman for Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he expressed condolences to families of those killed and is following developments.

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