Monday, 10 February 2020 06:47

Thailand Mourns Victims of 'Unprecedented' Shooting Rampage

Buddhist monks in northeast Thailand, joined by throngs of mourners, burned candles, prayed and chanted Sunday for the victims of the country's worst mass shooting.

A soldier angered over a financial dispute gunned down pedestrians and bystanders as he sped down a street in an army Humvee Saturday in Nakhon Ratchasima, leaving 29 dead and nearly 60 wounded in his wake. Security forces shot and killed the soldier after a 12-hour standoff inside a shopping mall Sunday.

The victims included a 13-year-old boy riding his motorbike and a young mother driving with her son.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha said he hopes the shooting "is the only one and the last incident, and that it never happens again. No one wants this to happen." He called such bloodshed in Thailand "unprecedented."

Officials identified the gunman as Sergeant Major Jakrapanth Thomma. Prayut and police say he was in the middle of a financial dispute with a relative of his commanding officer at an army camp involving the sale of a house.

Jakrapanth gunned down the officer and his relative, stole a load of guns from the camp, and took off in a Humvee, shooting his victims as he sped to the mall, where he continued to fire at people inside and outside the shopping center.

Jakrapanth holed himself up in the Terminal 21 Korat shopping center, an airport-themed mall filled with colorful Lego sculptures, a merry-go-round and huge replicas of landmarks from around the world.

After most mall employees and shoppers were evacuated, a joint police and military team swept the shopping center for Jakrapanth and killed him.
Officials say Jakrapanth was a trained sharpshooter who took special army classes on ambushing the enemy.

Hours before his bloody attack, Jakrapanth went on Facebook to tear into those he called greedy people, saying they cannot spend money in hell and adding that death is inevitable for everyone.

Facebook shut down his page almost immediately.

The death toll surpassed Thailand's last major attack on civilians, a 2015 bombing at Bangkok's Erawan Shrine that killed 20.

(VOA)

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