Thai Soldier Kills 29, Injures 33

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Thai Soldier Kills 29, Injures 33

Robinson Lee, Staff Writer

Tragedy struck on Sunday, Feb. 9, in Thailand as an armed assailant opened fire on shoppers in the Terminal 21 mall in Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat, which is about 3.5 hours from Bangkok. The attacker, soldier Jakraphanth Thomma, killed 29 people and injured 33 others. This is the second mall shooting in Thailand this year.

According to Thai officials, the shooter started his massacre after a dispute with his superior officer in an unspecified military camp. The shooter shot his superior, killed a 63-year-old woman, and killed another guard as he fled with an arsenal of military-grade weapons and a large amount of ammo on a military Humvee. The shooter then traveled to Terminal 21 and shot civilians on packed roads. 

Using the seven-story mall to his advantage, the shooter continued his spree and holed himself up in the mall, taking hostages in the process. A woman who testified to The Washington Post reported that “they fled through the fire exit and crawled on the ground to avoid gunfire.” 

Eventually, the surrounding streets and area were blocked off, with authorities barring residents within a mile of the mall from entering the area. The shooter was eventually killed by security forces, but his actions unnerved many during the 17-hour standoff.

The shooter posted to Facebook and social media quite often as he was blockaded in the mall. As soon as the videos and posts began to see a rise in viewership, Facebook banned the account. The circumstances of the shooting are reminiscent of the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand as both perpetrators made an attempt to spread violence through social media.

As for the country of Thailand as a whole, the nation is shocked at this massacre. Though gun ownership is not a guaranteed right and gun violence is quite low compared to the U.S., guns are still quite accessible in Thailand, legally or not. A black market has been thriving due to conflicts in South Thailand between Islamic militias and Thai royal forces. Though violence is common in that region, this mall attack hits an area where violence of the scale is not routine. As the departed are laid to rest and the survivors of this deadly massacre recover from the trauma of such an event, we can only hope the best for Thailand.

 

Photo courtesy of CNN.COM