(AP) – Authorities in northern Thailand have begun releasing bodies to relatives after security forces cornered and killed a soldier who carried out the country’s worst mass shooting in an hourslong siege at a shopping mall.
The soldier killed 29 people starting with his commanding officer in a stunning tragedy at an airport-themed mall in Nakhon Ratchasima over the weekend.
City residents have held two nights of Buddhist mourning ceremonies for the dead.
The country’s prime minister said King Maha Vajiralongkorn has offered all of the deceased royally sponsored funeral rites and cremations.
Authorities say the gunman was infuriated at a land deal brokered by his commander’s mother-in-law. She was another of his victims.
The death toll surpassed Thailand’s last major attack on civilians, a 2015 bombing at a shrine in Bangkok that was allegedly carried out by human traffickers.
Thai soldier’s deadly rampage reveals security lapses
It’s still unclear how a Thai soldier managed to steal heavy weapons from an army base which he then used to kill 29 people and hold off security forces for almost 16 hours while he was holed up in a popular shopping mall.
That he could do so is less surprising, experts in military matters say.
While details have yet to be released, they say his ability to snatch three assault rifles and two machine guns from his army base and then escape in a stolen military vehicle shows there were serious deficiencies in how the weapons were safeguarded.
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