Thailand’s army chief tearfully apologised to the nation after a rogue soldier went on a 19-hour-long rampage killing 29 people and injuring 57 in the city of Korat. Speaking at a press conference, Army Chief General Apirat Kongsompong assured that the army will help compensate all the victims and their families.
General Kongsompong said that one of the victims, Colonel Anantharot Krasae, took advantage of the shooter, Sergeant Major Jakrapanth Thomma, in a housing deal. The Army chief announced that the military would investigate the commanding officer involved in the deal and will try to find out if anyone else was also a participant in it.
Kongsompong reportedly said that the second the perpetrator pulled the trigger and killed, he didn’t remain a soldier and became a criminal. He also urged everyone not to berate army or soldiers saying if they want to blame someone they can put the blame on him as he is the army chief. Kongsompong further added that he has already instructed the authorities to set up a new line of communication where army personnel could directly complain to the army chief.
The 32-year-old soldier first killed his commanding officer and the commander's mother-in-law over a business dispute related to a housing deal. Thomma drove to the army base to steal assault weapons and ammunition. He then entered the Terminal 21 shopping centre in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima and opened fire at random people. The rogue soldier was shot dead a day after he went on the rampage in the city.
On February 10, relatives of the victims conducted Buddhist prayer ceremonies and the grieving family members held pictures of the victims and arrived at a morgue located in Nakhon Ratchasima. A prayer ceremony was also held outside the mall for one of the victims, Peeraphat Palasan, which was headed by a Buddhist monk in orange robes.
(With inputs from agencies)