Thai police arrest four suspected of selling modified gun to mall shooter

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai police arrested on Thursday four men suspected of illegally selling modified firearms to the teenager who opened fire in a luxury mall in Bangkok this week, killing two and wounding five.

Two of the four were arrested in the Thai capital and two in the southern province of Yala on suspicion of selling a modified blank gun to the 14-year-old, who has been charged with premeditated murder and illegal possession of a firearm.

“There was also livestreaming equipment,” police official Samran Nuanma told reporters outside the home of one suspect, adding that he suspected that sales took place on social media.

The men also had illegal firearms, tools to modify pistols and narcotics in their possession, he added.

Mass shootings are rare in Thailand, but gun violence and gun ownership is common. Ownership rules are strict, but firearms can be modified and obtained illegally, many smuggled from abroad.

The government also began closing legal loopholes regarding online sales in a bid to control the spread of weapons.

“The digital ministry will be shutting down websites selling blank guns,” Jakkapong Sangmanee, the deputy foreign minister, told a separate briefing.

The government plans to ban imports of blank guns, BB guns and imitation firearms, its deputy spokesperson, Karom Phonphonklang, said in a statement.

It will also stop issuing additional permits for gun imports and permits for possession.

(Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Edited by Clarence Fernandez)