Thailand shooting: At least 20 dead after solider opens fire in shopping centre

At least 20 people have been killed by a soldier in a mass shooting in north-eastern Thailand - a further 31 are injured.

The gunman - named by the Thai government as Sergeant Jakrapanth Thomma - initially shot dead another soldier and a woman, and wounded a third person apparently over a land dispute, police said.

The soldier then took a gun from his base and drove, reportedly in a military vehicle, to the Terminal 21 Korat shopping centre, shooting along the way.

Video taken outside the mall and shared on social media showed people taking cover in a car park as gunshots were fired.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul confirmed the death toll but said it was not clear "whether there are any additional injuries or deaths or not".

Police say the shopping centre has now been secured but did not reveal whether the shooter had been found.

Thomma was reportedly holed up in the shopping centre after carrying out the attack.

Noppadol Sirijanya, a member of the Sawang Metta Tham Rescue Centre in Nakhon Ratchasima said a team had evacuated more than 100 people from the mall, where they had been trapped for hours.

The gunman appeared to be armed with an assault rifle, based on security camera video aired on Thai Rath television.

Public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Facebook that a doctor was shot while helping an injured person.

The mall was shut down and the street outside closed while authorities tried to arrest the gunman and rescue shoppers.

Defence Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Kongcheep Tantrawanich identified the suspect as Sergeant Jakrapanth Thomma.

He said police and military units had locked down the mall and the surrounding area.

A video posted on social media from inside a car before all surrounding streets were shut down shows a man driving while a woman shouts: “What’s happening? Why are they running?”

Several gunshots are heard as they drive away from the mall, and the woman says: “Is it a robbery?”

The shopping centre was secured by armed commando soldiers. Credit: PA

A man believed to be the gunman 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.

Nakhon Ratchasima is about 150 miles north east of the capital Bangkok. It is a hub for Thailand’s relatively poorer and rural north-eastern region.

The size of the mall could pose a challenge for security forces as they try to capture the gunman.

It consists of seven main retail floors, including one below ground level, and scores of shops and restaurants. It also houses a cinema on the top floor.