Mass shooter killed at Korat mall, 27 dead
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Mass shooter killed at Korat mall, 27 dead

Rescue workers enter the Terminal 21 shopping mall after a soldier went on a shooting rampage in Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat, on Sunday, leaving at least 20 dead. (Reuters photo)
Rescue workers enter the Terminal 21 shopping mall after a soldier went on a shooting rampage in Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat, on Sunday, leaving at least 20 dead. (Reuters photo)

Commandos on Sunday killed a soldier after he carried out a shooting rampage in Korat that left 26 of his victims dead, police said.

  • Commandos kill soldier who carried out shooting rampage in Korat
  • Hostages taken, then freed by security forces during 17-hour ordeal at Terminal 21 mall
  • Official death toll at 27 with 57 wounded, 9 in surgery
  • Shooter Jakrapanth Thomma, 32, stole assault weapons from barracks
  • Shocked evacuees recount how ordinary shopping day descended into horror

They said he had been killed at the Terminal 21 shopping mall in Nakhon Ratchasima where the gunman, who earlier took hostages, was holed up for 17 hours.

"He was shot dead thirty minutes ago" (9am), chief of the Crime Suppression Division Jirabhob Bhuridej told AFP.

Commandos from elite Thai police units killed the gunman, a police spokesman added, after an operation involving hundreds of security personnel.

Death toll

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters early on Sunday afternoon that 27 people were dead, including the gunman, who he said had conducted the rampage because of "a personal problem" -- a dispute over a house sale with a relative of his commanding officer.

Earlier, a provincial public health official told a press conference on Sunday 20 people had been killed and 42 injured.

The figures excluded five others found hurt in the shopping centre on Sunday morning. But it was unclear if there were more victims inside the multi-level complex which was packed with Saturday shoppers when the gunman stormed in.

A fleet of ambulances left the front of the complex and forensic police poured into the grim crime scene, shortly before the gunman's death was confirmed.

National police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda and Pol Lt Gen Poonsap Prasertsak, chief of the Provincial Police Region 3, confirmed on Sunday that the soldier was killed.

The shooter has been identified as Jakrapanth Thomma, 32, of the Surathampithak army camp.

Another source said Sgt Maj 1st Class Jakrapanth was killed near Foodland supermarket in the basement of the shopping centre.

Thailand mass shooting: Gunman Sgt Maj 1st Class Jakrapanth Thomma is shown on his Facebook page

Thailand mass shooting: Gunman Sgt Maj 1st Class Jakrapanth Thomma is shown on his Facebook page.

Gunfire before dawn

The night was peppered with heavy exchanges of gunfire and sporadic evacuations.

Volleys of gunfire rang out before dawn, hours after security services stormed the ground floor of Terminal 21 where the gunman had held out, armed with assault weapons stolen from his barracks, for more than 17 hours.

As police entered the mall, scores of stunned and terrified shoppers fled a bloody rampage that the gunman relayed via Facebook posts.

The latest casualty was a police officer who took part in a raid around 3am to force the gunman out, said Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

"He had been hit and unfortunately, he didn't make it," said Mr Anutin.

Shoppers flee

Shocked evacuees recounted how an ordinary Saturday shopping day at the busy mall descended into horror as the gunman entered.

"It was like a dream... I'm grateful I survived," Sottiyanee Unchalee, 48, told AFP, explaining she hid in the toilet of a gym inside the mall as she heard the gunfire.

"I'm so sorry for those who died... (and) the people still trapped inside."

Automatic weapon fire rang out just before dawn as ambulances prepared to evacuate the wounded in an attack whose motives remain unclear.

Video: Soldier killed at Korat mall after shooting rampage kills at least 20 (YouTube/ABC News Australia)

As shoppers ran for the exits late Saturday, police urged evacuees to "raise their hands" and identify themselves on the ground floor over fears the gunmen could hide among the desperate crowds.

Facebook posts

Hours before the attack began on Saturday, Sgt Maj 1st Class Jakrapanth posted on Facebook, denouncing greedy people who took advantage of others and asking, "Do they think they can spend the money in hell?"

He relayed his shooting spree through Facebook Live and posts which charted the attack from the army barracks in the city to the mall. 

In one Facebook video -- since deleted -- the assailant, wearing an army helmet, filmed from an open-top jeep, saying, "I'm tired... I can't pull my finger anymore" as he made a trigger symbol with his hand.

A volunteer rescue worker recounted a bloody scene of horror after his team carried four corpses to the hospital.

"I've never seen anything like this," Peerapong Chatadee told AFP.

"I just feel so sad. He is a soldier, he should not have fired at unarmed people."

Stolen weapons

The bloodshed began Saturday afternoon when Sgt Maj 1st Class Jakrapanth shot three people -- among them at least one soldier -- at a senior officer's house and then at the nearby army barracks, before driving an army vehicle to the town centre.

There the gunman used weapons stolen from the military arsenal to unleash carnage in the town centre.

He "used a machine gun and shot innocent victims resulting in many injured and dead", said police spokesman Pol Krissana Pattanacharoen.

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