Tue, Feb 11, 2020 - Page 4 News List

Thai city mourns after mass shooting

SURVIVORS:A corporal said he was shot while fleeing from a roadblock, while a high-school student said he ducked in his mother’s car as the gunman killed her


People outside the Terminal 21 Korat mall in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, yesterday lay flowers, write condolences and pray for people killed by a gunman.

Photo: Reuters

Authorities in northern Thailand yesterday began releasing bodies to relatives after security forces cornered and killed a soldier who carried out the country’s worst mass shooting in an siege at a shopping mall.

The soldier killed 29 people starting with his commanding officer on Saturday and died on Sunday morning when security forces shot the heavily armed attacker in Terminal 21 Korat, an airport-themed mall in Nakhon Ratchasima.

The gunman, sergeant major Jakrapanth Thomma, 31, was upset at a land deal brokered by his commander’s mother-in-law, authorities said.

She was another of his victims.

Many of the 58 people wounded are still in bad condition. The Thai Ministry of Public Health sent a mental health crisis team to help relatives of the deceased cope with their losses.

At the city’s hospitals, survivors and family members of those killed recounted traumatic ordeals.

Corporal Korakot Ampanngeun said that he had been ordered to block a road so no one could go toward the gunman.

“So I was signaling to oncoming traffic, when I turned around and saw him. If I had not, I would not have survived,” he said. “I tried to run and find somewhere to hide, but I could only take two steps and then I heard the sound — ‘bang.’ My leg just went and I couldn’t walk. A good Samaritan helped carry me away.”

High-school student Nachote Chotiklang said he was in his mother’s car as she passed the gunman’s vehicle.

The assailant “got out of the car and fired into the window,” he said. “At that, I ducked down and didn’t do anything until I felt that car hit something. It hit a tree.”

When the teen was asked what happened to his mother, Nachote shook his head.

Another man said that she had died.

People have recounted hiding across the mall, keeping up to speed with the gunman’s movements through friends on the outside and snippets of CCTV footage shared over messaging groups.

The bodies of security personnel yesterday began to be flown to the capital, Bangkok, for funerals.

Nakhon Ratchasima was not prepared for killing on such a scale. The public hospital’s lone forensic doctor is performing autopsies before the bodies are released to families for cremation, but families were told he can only do a maximum of six autopsies per day.

Meanwhile, flowers and messages of condolences mounted outside the bullet-riddled mall.

A candlelight vigil was held on Sunday as Buddhist monks led prayers and people laid white flowers in memory of those who were killed by the attacker, who hit four locations across the city.

“You have this rage, it fills you,” local resident Chirathip Kurapakorn said at the vigil. “It just happened right here in our hometown behind us, like right in our heart of everything. It’s just tragic.”

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was criticized on social media after he posed for selfies and high-fived people during a visit to Korat on Sunday.

“There should be no smiles, joking around and touching hands like people are your fan club,” blogger Sorakon Adulyanon, aka Noom Muang Chan, wrote on Facebook.

Prayuth later on Sunday said: “We are all saddened by what happened.”

“I intended to offer my moral support ... my expression may have been misunderstood or made many people uncomfortable,” he wrote on Facebook.

Additional reporting by Reuters and AFP

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