At least 30 people have been killed in a mass shooting at a children’s day care centre in Thailand.
The victims included 22 children – some as young as two years old – as well as adults, authorities said, adding that the gunman was an ex-police officer and a manhunt was under way.
However, officials later said the gunman had killed himself shortly after fleeing the scene.
The shooting took place in the town of Uthai Sawan in the northeastern province of Nong Bua Lamphu.
At least a dozen other people were injured in the attack, officials said.
The gunman was said to have been armed with guns and knives, according to the Bangkok Post, and opened fire at the centre after forcing his way in at around lunchtime.
Wielding a knife, he then forced his way into a locked room where children were sleeping, district official Jidapa Boonsom said, to continue his attack.
There were around 30 children inside the entire building at the time, she said.
The gunman first shot four or five staff, including a teacher who was eight months pregnant, before attacking the sleeping youngsters.
“At first, people thought it was fireworks,” she said.
Videos posted on social media showed emergency services at the scene, and sheets covering what appeared to be the bodies of children at the centre.
The gunman was fired from the police force last year for failing a drugs test, district police official Chakkraphat Wichitvaidya told reporters.
He had attended a court hearing on a drugs charge prior to the rampage, and had appeared agitated when arriving at the children’s centre.
The suspect was last seen driving a white Toyota pick-up truck with Bangkok number plates as he fled the scene – shooting ay bystanders and driving his vehicle at them.
The Daily News reported that the assailant returned to his home and killed himself along with his wife and child.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha described the attack as a shocking incident in a Facebook post, and alerted all agencies to take action.