A member of the Thai security forces was killed early on Sunday in a raid into a shopping mall to try to stop a soldier on a shooting rampage, bringing the total death toll to 26, the health minister said.
The killings began at around 3 p.m. (0800 GMT) on Saturday when the soldier opened fire in a house before moving to an army camp and then to the mall in Nakhon Ratchasima in northeastern Thailand, posting messages on Facebook as he went.
Early on Sunday, gunfire broke out at the mall as security forces tried to dislodge the soldier, identified by police as 32-year-old Jakrapanth Thomma.
Police and soldiers stormed into the Terminal 21 shopping mall where the suspected gunman was on a shooting rampage and helped hundreds of people to escape, defense ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanit told Reuters.
Two casualties were brought out of the #Terminal21 shopping mall in the Thai city of #Korat after security forces stormed in to rescue those trapped and hunt down a soldier on a shooting rampage.https://t.co/5n7p3apFw6 pic.twitter.com/V34iHELrwg— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) February 8, 2020
“Police officers and soldiers are joining forces and have helped evacuate hundreds of people from inside the mall,” he said. “It’s not known how many are still inside.”
He said the gunman was still inside the mall in Nakhon Ratchasima.
Earlier, Royal Thai Police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen said a soldier killed “many” people in a mass shooting rampage.
Police contacted by phone in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima said the soldier, stationed outside the city, initially shot dead another soldier and a woman and wounded a third person.
The city and neighborhood police officers, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to release information, said the man took a gun from his base and drove to the Terminal 21 mall, shooting along the way. The city is also known as Korat.
Several hostages are being released from the #Terminal21 mall in Nakhon Ratchasima, #Thailand, where a gunman has killed at least 20 people in a mass shooting.https://t.co/5n7p3apFw6 pic.twitter.com/EMCdKs4azo— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) February 8, 2020
Video taken outside the mall and shared on social media showed people taking cover in a parking lot as gunshots were fired.
The mall was shut down and the street outside was closed while the authorities tried to arrest the gunman and rescue shoppers inside.
Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Kongcheep Tantrawanich identified the suspect as Jakrapanth Thomma. He said police and military units had locked down the mall and the surrounding area.
(With AFP, Reuters)