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Thai soldier shot dead after killing 21 people in a shopping centre shooting rampage.

The gunman who went on a shooting rampage and killed at least 21 people and injured 42 others has been shot dead inside a mall in northeastern Thailand. 

Officials say Sergeant. Jakrapanth Thomma, who was angry over a financial dispute, was behind the attack in Nakhon Ratchasima, about 250 kilometres northeast of Bangkok.

A policeman said the gunman initially killed another soldier and a woman, and wounded a third person, over a land dispute, before driving to the busy shopping centre.

Video footage taken outside the mall showed people diving for cover as shots rang out mid-afternoon Saturday.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from the mall by police in small batches while they previously searched for the gunman.

“We were scared and ran to hide in toilets,” said Sumana Jeerawattanasuk, one of those rescued by police. She said seven or eight people hid in the same room as her.

“I am so glad. I was so scared of getting hurt,” she said.

Nattaya Nganiem and her family had just finished eating and were driving away when she heard gunfire.

“First I saw a woman run out from the mall hysterically,” said Nattaya, who shot video of the scene on her phone. “Then a motorcycle rider in front of her just ran and left his motorcycle there.”

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Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said a doctor was shot while helping an injured person.

Shortly before midnight, police announced they had secured the above-ground portion of the mall, but were still searching for the shooter.

Some shoppers remained trapped in the mall, presumably in the below-ground portion.

“We are worried for those who are still trapped inside. Some still couldn’t come out,” Lt. Col. Poonsap Prasertsak, a senior police commander for the region, said early Sunday morning. He told reporters police were in touch with some of those still trapped.

“We told them to stay calm, stay still and keep their heads down,” he said.

Gunfire could be heard coming from the mall around 3am as ambulances were brought closer to the scene, but reporters were kept away.

Thai media have been told that the first person killed was the commanding officer of the 22nd Ammunition Battalion, in which the suspect also served. The gunman had then fired at others at his base and took guns and ammunition before fleeing in an army Humvee.

The man believed to be the gunman appears to have posted updates to his Facebook page during the rampage.

“No one can escape death,” read one post. Another asked, “Should I give up?” In a later post, he wrote, “I have stopped already.”

A photo circulated on social media that appeared to be taken from the Facebook page shows a man wearing a green camouflaged military helmet while a fireball and black smoke rage behind him. Jakrapanth’s profile picture shows him in a mask and dressed in military-style fatigues and armed with a pistol. The background image is of a handgun and bullets. The Facebook page was made inaccessible after the shooting began.

Feature Image: AAP.


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