At least 23 children are among dozens of people murdered at a children's nursery in Thailand after an ex-police officer went on a rampage before killing himself and his family.
The attacker is said to have stormed the nursery with a gun and a knife before carrying out his attack while the children at the pre-school were sleeping. At least 35 people are believed to have been killed in total, including a pregnant teacher.
Footage shows the horrific aftermath of the carnage, with bodies found at several buildings and in the street around the pre-school in Nong Bua Lamphu province in the far north of the country. The victims included three children as young as 2 years old, according to local police.
The suspect is reported to be police lieutenant Panya Khamrab, 34, who was recently suspended from the force for drugs offences and had been in court earlier on Thursday for a hearing.
A manhunt was launched but the assailant fled home and killed himself, his wife and his child, according to the Central Investigation Bureau.
His white Vigo pickup truck was found abandoned at a nearby house having been torched.
At the Child Care Center in Uthai Sawan Subdistrict Administrative Organization, dozens of bodies covered in blood were scattered across the floor.
About 30 children were at the centre when the gunman arrived, fewer than usual, as heavy rain had kept many people away, district official Jidapa Boonsom, who was working in a nearby office at the time, told Reuters.
"The shooter came in around lunch time and shot four or five officials at the childcare centre first," said Jidapa, adding that among them was a teacher who was eight months pregnant.
"At first people thought it was fireworks," she said.
The gunman then forced his way into a locked room where children were sleeping, Jidapa said, to kill children there with a knife.
Police said 19 boys, three girls and two adults were found day inside the childcare centre. One boy and an adult were found dead at a nearby government office.
When the shooter returned home, he killed one boy and four adults and another adult in a nearby building.
A further three people - all adults - were later pronounced dead at hospital. At least 12 other people were injured in the rampage and are being treated.
Liz Truss, the prime minister, sent her condolences and said the UK stood with the Thai people: "I am shocked to hear of the horrific events in Thailand this morning. My thoughts are with all those affected and the first responders."
The suspect had been involved in an ongoing court case for allegedly selling drugs, according to Maj. Gen. Jirapob Puridet of the CIB.
He had appeared in court in Nong Bua Lamphu hours before traveling to the nursery and “opening fire while the kids were sleeping,” Mr Puridet said.
Police spokesperson Paisan Luesomboon told broadcaster ThaiPBS the gunman had been at a court hearing in connection with a drug case earlier on Thursday and had gone to the daycare centre to find his child, but the child was not there.
"He was already stressed and when he couldn't find his child he was more stressed and started shooting," Mr Paisan said.
Family members began to turn up at the school later on Thursday, with footage showing people hugging each other and police cars lined up.
— Thai Enquirer (@ThaiEnquirer) October 6, 2022
Mass shootings are rare but in 2020, a soldier angry over a property deal gone sour killed at least 29 people and wounded 57 in a rampage that spanned four locations.
The rate of gun ownership in Thailand is high compared with some other countries in the region but official figures do not include huge numbers of illegal weapons, many of which have been brought in across porous borders over the years from strife-torn neighbours.