KORAT — Army officials on Sunday said they will implement additional security measures at military bases to prevent another mass shooting like the one that left 30 people dead in Nakhon Ratchasima over the weekend.
Following intense scrutiny from the public over how a lone soldier could loot military-grade weapons and hundreds of ammos from a base in Korat before engaging in the killing spree, army spokesman Winthai Suvaree said security officers would increase their vigilance when guarding arsenals inside military installations.
Col. Winthai said the gunman, Sgt. Jakkrapanth Thomma, was close to other soldiers inside the base, including the servicemen guarding the armory, so his attack caught them completely off-guard. He called the incident “unprecedented.”
“The force is currently in the process of assisting the wounded and compensating those affected to the best of our ability as a priority,” Col. Winthai said. “After the situation improves, we will [investigate] the chains of events … so that we can adjust the measures in place to be more efficient.”
Police said Sgt. Jakkrapanth – himself a professional shooting athlete – used a weapon he was carrying during his guard duty to kill sentries guarding the armory on Saturday. He then left the base with firearms including a Heckler & Koch rifle, an M60 machine gun, a shotgun, a handgun, several types of grenades, and over 700 rounds of ammunition.
Army chief Apirat Kongsompong today announced changes to armament for soldiers on base guard duties, banning them from carrying machine guns. They must also remove bolts from their firearms and hand them over to commanding officers, and keep the weapons unloaded with magazines.
But the army later said Apirat was merely repeating security protocol already in place, and no new hanges were added. The rules apply to all military bases nationwide, except in border provinces.
Nakhon Ratchasima’s regional army commander Thanya Kriatisarn said he already instructed soldiers under his command to increase security after the incident, which appeared to be Thailand’s worst mass shooting.
Sgt. Jakkrapanth’s military-grade weapons and tactical knowledge posed a crucial challenge to police and army commandos who spent over 10 hours trying to neutralize him inside Terminal 21 shopping mall, according to several police officers familiar with the operation.
The soldier reportedly switched to a machine gun loaded with armor-piercing rounds when fighting the besiegers, leading to the death of one police commando.