UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Sha announced Sunday that the massacre committed by a soldier in the northeast of the country had left 27 dead, including the attacker, explaining that the motive of the shooter was “personal” and that the event was “unprecedented” in the country.
After a long night witnessed an exchange of fire and crowds fled from the commercial center that witnessed the massacre, the Special Forces killed the attacker at dawn, and put an end to 17 hours during which the country held its breath.
The Thai Prime Minister said that the soldier killed 26 people, including civilians – the youngest of whom is a thirteen-year-old boy – and members of the security forces.
“It is unprecedented in Thailand and I want this to be the last crisis of this kind we are witnessing,” he added in front of the Nakhon Ratchasima Hospital, to which the victims of the shooting were taken and who had serious head injuries.
Prayot, who was former army chief, said the shooter suffers from a “personal problem” linked to a dispute over “selling a home”.
The attacker barricaded himself inside Terminal 21 in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima – also known as Korat overnight and with assault weapons he stole from his barracks.
Jacrabanth Thoma, a young army officer, used an M60 machine gun, assault rifle and ammunition he stole from his military base, which is one of the largest in Thailand. He also seized a military vehicle.
The Prime Minister said that the security of the base’s arsenals has been enhanced. “There was no negligence. We did not leave the arsenal unattended and we had guards for it.”
Most of the 26 people killed were in or around the mall.
Throughout the night he heard gunfire and people were evacuated from the building in small groups.
During the attack on the shooter, a policeman was killed.
Most of the evacuees spoke of a normal day of shopping Saturday at a mall, which turned into hell.
“It was like a dream,” said Sotiani Unchali, 48, who said, “I’m happy to be alive,” explaining that she hid in the toilets when she heard the shooting.
A Philippine teacher, Aldrin Ballking, told AFP that staff members moved him to a safe location behind a small shop at the start of the shooting. “We stayed there for six hours long. I am still under shock.”
Dozens of people were trying to escape when the police, masked soldiers and armed with assault rifles took control of the ground floor after an exchange of fire and began evacuating the building in small groups.
Hours later, the shooter was killed and a group of special forces snipers were seen exiting smiling.
In a video posted on social media, elite snipers appeared climbing tall bridges as they shot their rifles down while shooting was heard from the lobby of the mall.
Despite initial information provided by the Prime Minister, the attacker’s motives remain mysterious as the quiet, medium-sized city balls start to realize the scale of the atrocities.
The massacre began shortly before Saturday evening in Nakhon Ratchasima, at a military base in which three people were killed, at the residence of a first officer and then in the barracks from which the soldier stole weapons and a military vehicle to go to the city center.
There the soldier entered the mall and opened fire randomly, which led to a massacre.
He posted videos and pictures of him and wrote several messages on his Facebook page, including “Should I surrender?” And “No one escapes death.”
“I am tired (…) I am no longer able to pull the trigger,” says Jacobanth Thoma, in a video clip that was subsequently deleted.
He also put pictures of a man wearing a ski mask and holding a gun, too.
A Facebook spokesman told France Presse that the social network “has closed the shooter’s account and will remove all illegal content related to this attack as soon as we know about it.”
Korat is one of the main cities with garrisons in Thailand, where the army is heavily involved in society and politics.
The Kingdom is one of the most heavily armed countries in the world.
Several shootings in the courts of the past year raised concern in this regard in the country in South-East Asia.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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