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NEWS / THAILAND

Soldier kills 26 in bloodiest shooting spree in Thailand

Officials said the soldier was angry over a financial dispute, first killing two people on a military base and then went on a far bloodier rampage, shooting as he drove to a mall where shoppers fled in terror.

Jakraphanth Thomma on Saturday killed his commanding officer before stealing weapons from a military camp.

The suspect continued his attack on the streets and in a shopping centre in Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat.

The gunman, who posted material to social media, was shot dead after being cornered all night in the building.

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha gave the higher death toll on Sunday, an increase from an earlier figure of 20. Fifty-seven people are wounded.

"It is unprecedented in Thailand, and I want this to be the last time this crisis happens," he said, after visiting the wounded at a hospital in Nakhon Ratchasima.

He said the motive for the attack appeared to be Jakraphanth's grudge over his belief that he had been cheated in a property deal.

Gun violence is not unheard of in Thailand. Firearms can be obtained legally, and many Thais own guns. Mass shootings are rare, though there are occasional gun battles in the far south of the country, where authorities have for years battled a long-running separatist insurgency. 

The incident in Korat comes just a month after another high-profile mall shooting, in the central Thai city of Lopburi. In that case, a masked gunman carrying a handgun with a silencer killed three people, including a 2-year-old boy, and wounded four others as he robbed a jewelry store. A suspect, a school director, was arrested less than two weeks later and reportedly confessed, saying he did not mean to shoot anyone. 

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