A chaotic scene unfolded at the Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok, Thailand on Tuesday afternoon as gunshots rang out near an upscale retail area, resulting in the tragic deaths of at least three people, according to Thai local media. The incident took place around 4.20pm local time.
Local police authorities reported the arrest of a 14-year-old male suspect, apprehended by police on the third floor of the nearby Siam Kempinski Hotel.
Security camera footage captured the suspect shooter, who was seen kneeling with his hands on his head as three police officers closed in on him. In a swift action, one of the officers subdued the suspect on the ground.
Several Chinese tourists near the scene of the shooting incident told the Chinese news outlet Southern Metropolis Daily that they had heard multiple gunshots, and many people were fleeing, as chaos gripped the area.
The incident occurred near a high-end handbag store on the "M" level inside the building, Chinese media learned. A Chinese tourist who was in the vicinity told the South Metropolis Daily that both the Paragon and Siam Center malls were closed in the wake of the incident. They were initially trapped inside Siam Center, but have since been allowed to evacuate.
Another Chinese tourist was quoted as telling reporters that they were shopping inside Siam Paragon when they witnessed many tourists fleeing. Subsequently, while escaping, they heard multiple gunshots.
“If I remember correctly, I heard three gunshots while I was running. I have now exited and am not entirely sure about the situation inside,” the tourist said.
Thailand recently granted visa exemptions for Chinese nationals from September 25 to February 29, 2024 to boost local tourism. The temporary waiver is expected to attract five million additional visitors, according to media reports, citing Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol.
Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin also welcomed Chinese tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, Thailand on September 25.
According to the latest data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), from January 1 to September 17, Thailand has hosted over 2.34 million Chinese tourists, approximately 37 percent of the same period in 2019.
One Chinese national was killed and another injured in the shooting incident in Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok, Thailand on Tuesday, the China Central Television reported, citing information from the Chinese Embassy in Thailand.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has not confirmed any details as of Tuesday evening.
A number of Chinese netizens expressed their concern about whether it’s still safe to travel to Thailand, sharing their anxiety on Chinese Twitter-like Weibo platform on Tuesday, with news of the shooting incident attracting more than 32 million views on the platform.