A Thai soldier who has killed a minimum of 21 people during a shooting rampage was thought to be holed up within the basement of a mall in northeastern Thailand on Sunday and security forces were closing in on him, a policeman said.
The officer said nine civilians had been evacuated from the mall and security forces were checking whether any remained there.
“The perpetrator remains within the basement and it doesn’t look as if he has hostages. We are becoming on the brink of him,” said the officer who didn’t give his name because he wasn’t authorised to talk to media.
The killings began at around 3 p.m. (0800 GMT) on Saturday when the soldier opened fire during a house before moving to a military camp then to the mall in Nakhon Ratchasima in northeastern Thailand, posting messages on Facebook as he went.
Police have identified the suspected shooter as 32-year-old Jakrapanth Thomma.
Overnight, one member of the safety forces was killed and a minimum of two others wounded during a raid into the Terminal 21 mall to undertake to prevent the gunman.
Nine people were evacuated from the mall . The suspect remains within the basement.
“We do our greatest . you’ll see that each one our senior officers of the govt are assigned here,” Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters at the scene. “All steps are being crazy precautions in order that we will minimize the damage the maximum amount as we will .”
More than 30 people are wounded.
Police closed off streets round the mall and kept journalists behind a security cordon.
Thai media said the suspected shooter had worked at a military base on the brink of Nakhon Ratchasima, which is about 250 km (155 miles) from the capital Bangkok. Before the attack, Jakrapanth had posted on his Facebook account that he was out for vengeance — but he didn’t say for what.
‘It Appears He Went Mad’
“We do not know why he did this. It appears he went mad,” Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanit told Reuters.
Overnight, soldiers and police stormed into the mall and escorted many trapped people to safety.
“It was frightening because I could hear the occasional gunshot … we waited an extended time for the police to return and help us, many hours.” said Suvanarat Jirattanasakul, 27, her voice trembling after she emerged.
The mall was busy with shoppers on an extended weekend for the Buddhist Makha Bucha holiday.
Gunshots heard from Thai mall as gunman still inside
Gunshots are heard coming from the Terminal 21 mall in Nakhon Ratchasima, where a thai solider who killed 20 people during a shooting spree remains holed up with an unknown number of individuals feared trapped inside, despite repeated attempts by armed pol…
CCTV footage from inside the mall posted on social media showed the gunman wearing black and wearing a mask, his gun slung over his shoulder with no sign of people around.
Facebook said it had removed the suspect’s account.
“There is not any place on Facebook for people that commit this type of atrocity, nor can we allow people to praise or support this attack,” a Facebook representative said during a statement.
Major shootings are rare within the Southeast Asian country aside from within the far south, where a decades-old insurgency persists.
Nakhon Ratchasima is one among the most important cities in northeastern Thailand, an island of relative prosperity during a rice growing area that’s one among the poorest parts of the country of 69 million people.