Asia Minute: Thailand Grieves for Mass Shooting Victims

Feb 14, 2020

Tomorrow marks one week since the worst mass shooting in the history of Thailand. 30 people were killed and 58 wounded, and many in the nation are still filled with grief and shock.

A shopping center in northeastern Thailand re-opened Thursday with a blessing and ceremonies involving more than 200 Buddhist monks.

The Terminal 21 shopping center in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima had been closed since last Saturday’s mass shooting — one of several stops made by a 32-year old army soldier.

Local media say he began by shooting his commanding officer and the officer’s mother-in-law. The three were apparently in a real estate business together, and the gunman had a dispute over payment.

He then went to an army base, a Buddhist temple and the upscale shopping mall — shooting at random. The violence stretched for 19 hours until the gunman was shot dead by a security team at the mall.

Mass shootings may be painfully familiar in the United States, but Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha called it “unprecedented in Thailand.”

The Army’s chief of staff held a tearful news conference earlier this week — promising compensation for families of victims and a new line of communication for army personnel to file complaints.

While a mass shooting is new to Thailand, gun deaths are not.

Deutsche Welle quotes the University of Washington’s Institute for Health and Metric Evaluation as saying Thailand has the highest rate of gun-related deaths in Southeast Asia — nearly 50% higher than the Philippines, and twice the rate of the United States.