International desk, Feb 08: A soldier has killed 20 people and injured many more in a gun rampage in the Thai city of Nakhon Ratchasima.Jakraphanth Thomma, a junior officer, killed his commanding officer before stealing weapons from a military camp, a defence spokesman told BBC Thai.
The suspect then drove to the city centre and entered a shopping complex, where is believed to be holed up.
The suspect, whose motives remain unclear, posted images of his attack on social media sites.
How did the attack unfold?
It began in Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat, in the late afternoon at the Suatham Phithak military camp, where the commanding officer, named by the Bangkok Post as Col Anantharot Krasae, was killed.
The Post said a 63-year-old woman and another soldier were also killed there.
He then opened fire at a number of sites before arriving at the Terminal 21 shopping centre.
Local media footage appears to show the suspect getting out of his vehicle and firing shots as people flee.
CCTV footage shows him inside the shopping centre with a raised rifle.
Other footage showed a fire outside the building, with some reports saying it was caused by a gas canister that exploded when it was hit with a bullet. One of the suspect’s social media posts features an image of himself with the fire in the background.
“The gunman used a machine gun and shot innocent victims resulting in many injured and dead,” government spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen told Agence France-Presse.
Defence ministry spokesman Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich said 20 people had been killed.
What is the situation now?
Authorities have sealed off the shopping centre as they try to track down the suspect, who is said to be inside the building. Police have warned people to stay at home.
The Bangkok Post reported that the suspect, who it said was 32 years old, had taken hostages inside the building, but this has not been officially confirmed. More gunshots have reportedly been heard inside the centre.
The public health minister has put out an appeal for people to donate blood at hospitals in the area.
What did the suspect post on social media?
He posted on his social media accounts during the attack, with one on Facebook asking whether he should surrender.
He had earlier posted an image of a pistol with three sets of bullets, along with the words “it is time to get excited” and “nobody can avoid death”.
Facebook has now been taken the page down.
It said: “Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the community affected by this tragedy in Thailand. There is no place on Facebook for people who commit this kind of atrocity, nor do we allow people to praise or support this attack.”