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Thai soldier kills at least 20 people, holes up in mall

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In this photo made available by the Crime Suppression Division, people are seen heading to an exit of the Terminal 21 Korat mall guarded by armed police in Korat, Thailand, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. A soldier shot multiple people in northeastern Thailand on Saturday, killing at least 16, and was holed up in a popular shopping mall, an emergency worker said. (Crime Suppression Division of The Royal Thai Police via AP)
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Police and bystanders stand near the scene of a shooting at the Terminal 21 mall, in Korat, Thailand, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. Police in northeastern Thailand said a soldier shot multiple people on Saturday, killing more than 10, and was holed up at a popular shopping mall. (AP Photo)

NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand (AP) — A soldier who holed up in a popular shopping mall in northeastern Thailand shot multiple people on Saturday, killing at least 20 and injuring 31 others, officials said.

Police said they have secured the mall, and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said there are no more bodies left inside. But he added, “we don’t know whether there are any additional injuries or deaths or not.” He did not say whether the shooter had been found.

Anutin said a doctor was shot while helping an injured person.

The gunman, described by police as a soldier angry over a land dispute, appeared to be armed with an assault rifle, based on security camera video aired on Thai Rath television. Thai Rath said the incident began at about 3:30 p.m.

Shortly before midnight, police announced they had secured the entire mall in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima. They released photos of officers escorting people to the exits, but they gave no information about the gunman’s whereabouts.

A police officer contacted by phone said the soldier initially shot dead another soldier and a woman and wounded a third person, apparently over a land dispute.

City and neighborhood police officers, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to release information, said the man took a gun from his base and drove to the Terminal 21 Korat mall, shooting along the way. Several Thai media reported that he traveled in a military vehicle.

Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Kongcheep Tantrawanich identified the suspect as Sgt. Jakrapanth Thomma.

The suspect posted updates to his Facebook page during the rampage with statements including “No one can escape death” and “Should I give up?” In a later post he wrote, “I have stopped already.”

His 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.

In a photo circulated on social media that appeared to be taken from his Facebook page, the suspect can be seen wearing a green camouflaged military helmet while a fireball and black smoke rage behind him. The Facebook page was made inaccessible after the shooting began.

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The Associated Press

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