International

Thai mall gunman who killed 20 people shot dead by police

IANS

Bangkok, February 9, 2020

The gunman who killed 20 people in a shooting spree at a shopping mall in Thailand's Nakhon Ratchasima was killed by the police on Sunday, a senior police official said.

Sgt. Jakrapanth Thomma, who also injured 42 others in the shooting incident on Saturday at the Terminal 21 shopping mall, was killed after a night-long standoff with the police, Efe news quoted Thai Police Commissioner-General Chakthip Chaijinda said.

At a Sunday morning press conference, Lt. Gen. Thanya Kiatsan, Region 2 commander said Jakrapanth had holed himself up at Foodland Supermarket on the ground floor -- which only has one access point -- of the sprawling multi-storey shopping centre.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul posted on his Facebook page on Sunday morning, congratulating the security forces for killing the suspect.

"Thank you police and army for ending the situation. Shooter shot dead," the BBC quoted the Facebook post as saying.

Officials said that the death toll now stood at 20, with 42 wounded, revising an earlier total of 25 dead.

"The official number of the dead right now is 20 and 42 wounded. Of them, 21 are still in hospital and 21 have gone home," the BBC reported citing Narinrat Phitchayakhamin, head of the Provincial Office of Public Health, as saying.

However, it was still possible that the number of fatalities could rise.

The shooting spree began at around 3.30 p.m. on Saturday at the Suatham Phithak military camp, where Thomma first killed his commanding officer, named by the Bangkok Post as Col Anantharot Krasae.

The Post said a 63-year-old woman, Col Anantharot's mother-in-law, and another soldier were also killed there.

The suspect seized arms and ammunition from the camp before taking a Humvee-type vehicle.

He then opened fire at a number of sites before arriving at the Terminal 21 mall at about 6 p.m., reports the BBC.

Local media footage appeared to show the suspect getting out of his vehicle and firing shots as people fled.

CCTV footage showed him inside the shopping centre with a raised rifle.

Thomma posted on his social media accounts during the attack, with one post on Facebook asking whether he should surrender.

He had earlier posted an image of a pistol with three sets of bullets, along with the words "it is time to get excited" and "nobody can avoid death".

Facebook has now taken the page down.

Thailand, with an estimated 10 million registered and unregistered firearms in circulation, has roughly 15 guns for every 100 people -- one of the highest ratios in the world, according to monitoring organization Gun Policy.

IANS

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