A Thai soldier has killed at least 20 people in a shooting rampage in north-east Thailand and remains at large, the Defence Ministry said.
- The suspected gunman is a soldier and remains at large
- He opened fire at a mall and on-lookers posted videos on social media
- Police said the shooter killed people at a house before going to an army base to get a new gun
The mass shooting took place at a mall in Nakhon Ratchasima, which is also known as Korat.
Police identified the suspect as Jakrapanth Thomma. He had posted on his Facebook page earlier in the day that “Death is inevitable for everyone”.
He also posted a picture of what appeared to be his hand holding a gun.
At one point after the shooting had begun, the suspect posted “Should I give up?”, before his account became inaccessible.
The soldier had opened fire at different locations in the city, which is more than 250 kilometres from the capital Bangkok, police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen said in a message sent to reporters.
“We don’t know why he did this. It appears he went mad,” Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanit said.
The shooter remained close to a shopping mall and had not yet been apprehended, the police said.
Local media showed footage of the soldier getting out of a car in front of a shopping mall and firing a series of shots, sending people running. Gunshots could be heard on the video.
One video from a bystander showed a man slumped at the wheel of a car in a pool of blood. It was unclear if he was among the dead.
A woman interviewed by Thailand’s Channel One television said she had heard gunshots when she was at the shopping mall and hid in a clothing store with other people before escaping.
The shooter had initially gone to a house in the city and shot two people dead, before going to the weapons store on an army base and taking a new gun, local police said.
He also shot at people on the army base, they added.
Police and military units had locked down the mall and the surrounding area, the military spokesman said.
Facebook said on Saturday (local time) it had removed the account of the man identified by police as the suspect, who had appeared to post messages on Facebook before and during the shooting.
“Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the community affected by this tragedy in Thailand. There is no place on Facebook for people who commit this kind of atrocity, nor do we allow people to praise or support this attack,” a Facebook representative said in a statement.
“We have removed the gunman’s accounts from our services and will work around the clock to remove any violating content related to this attack as soon as we become aware of it.”