A Thai soldier launched a shooting rampage that killed at least 26 people – including a 13-year-old boy – and injured 57 others because he was angry about a “house deal”, the country’s leader has said.
“It was a personal conflict… over a house deal,” said Mr Chan-ocha at a press briefing in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, where the attack took place on Saturday.
He added: “It is unprecedented in Thailand, and I want this to be the last time this crisis happens.”
Hundred of shoppers were inside the Terminal 21 shopping centre in the city when Thomma drove a stolen Humvee into the building, armed with an assault weapon and ammunition stolen from the army base’s arsenal.
One survivor, Suvanarat Jirattanasakul, 27, said: “It was frightening because I could hear the occasional gunshot… we waited a long time for the police to come and help us, many hours.”
The assailant was shot and killed by Thai security forces after an 18-hour standoff. Army spokesman Winthai Suvaree said Thomma, a sharpshooter, stole two rifles, an M60 machine gun and 770 rounds of ammunition from the arsenal, reported the Bangkok Post.
Thomma also reportedly killed his commanding officer and a guard to the weapons arsenal in order to steal the weapons.
During his rampage, Thomma posted updates on Facebook before the social media platform shut his account down.
He said: “Death is inevitable for everyone.”
Later, he added another post complaining about his fingers cramping and asked: “Should I give up?”
Facebook said in a statement: “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.”
Forensic police have reportedly begun collecting evidence inside the shopping centre, which remains cordoned off while authorities conduct their investigation.
Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat, has a population of about 250,000 people. It is one of the lesser-visited areas among Thailand’s nearly million annual tourists.
Additional reporting by agencies