A Thai soldier who killed 30 people before being shot dead in a mall by commandos went on the rampage because of a debt dispute, the kingdom’s premier said on Sunday, offering the first official speculation for the motive of an “unprecedented” shooting spree.
After a night which seesawed between heavy exchanges of gunfire and terrifying dashes for mall exits by trapped shoppers, sharp-shooters brought an end to the 17-hour-ordeal when they killed the gunman on Sunday morning in Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat.
Thirty people including civilians — the youngest a 13-year-old boy — and security forces were killed by the rogue soldier, Thailand’s prime minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha said. “It is unprecedented in Thailand, and I want this to be the last time this crisis happens,” he said outside a hospital where victims, including at least two undergoing brain surgery, were being treated. Prayut, a gruff former army chief, blamed a “personal problem” over the sale of the house for the soldier’s rampage, which began on Saturday afternoon near an army barracks and was for several hours relayed by the gunman via Facebook posts.
The attacker, a junior army officer identified as Sergeant-Major Jakrapanth Thomma, used a stolen M60 machine gun and rifles from one of Thailand’s largest barracks as well as a military humvee to carry out the attack.