Thai king grants royal funerals to mass shooting victims


Relatives and families hold pictures as the coffins of Royal Thai Police team members Trakool Tha-arsa (front) and Petcharat Kamjadpai, killed in the mass shooting, are transported. (Photo: AFP)

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn will grant royal funerals to the 29 people killed in a rampage by a rouge soldier over the weekend in the country's northeast, the Southeast Asian country's prime minister said on Monday.

"Their majesties the king and queen would like to express their condolences and would like to give moral support to all the victims' families and the officials (who have lost their lives)," Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said.

"They have granted royal funeral ceremonies for the victims," he added.

Holding portraits of their relatives and dabbing away tears, grieving relatives of the victims arrived on Monday morning at a city morgue in Nakhon Ratchasima, better known as Korat, to carry home coffins bearing their dead.

Mourners left flowers and written messages in front of the Terminal 21 shopping center in northeastern Thailand where many of the victims were killed.

Soldiers, mall staff and volunteers cleaned bloodstains from the front of the mall in the city of Korat, while others laid wreaths.

"Even though they are not my relatives or someone I know, but just walking by, I don't feel okay with what happened," said Thanaphorn Tongweraprasert, 29, who lives near the mall.

Many of those killed in the attack were at the shopping center, the last stop for the soldier, who held out against an overnight siege with weapons stolen from his army base before being shot dead by security forces on Sunday.

The soldier, angry over a real estate deal gone awry, began his rampage by killing his commanding officer at home on Saturday.

He moved on to his military base, where he killed a guard and stole high-powered weapons and ammunition from the armory, and then fled in a stolen Humvee to a Buddhist temple, where he killed nine people before driving to the Terminal 21 mall.

At least 29 were killed and 57 wounded.

As Korat and the country mourned, there were growing questions about why the gunman went on a killing spree over an apparent private debt to a senior officer and how he was able to steal weapons, including an M60 machine gun, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.