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At least 34 dead after gunman opens fire in Thai daycare center

Patrick Smith is a London-based editor and reporter for NBC News Digital.

Reuters contributed .

Thirty-four people, including 22 children, were dead in northeastern Thailand on Thursday after a former police officer opened fire at a daycare on Thursday, police said.

At least 12 people were wounded, eight of them seriously, and were receiving medical treatment, the office of Police Gen. Surachete Hakparn said.

The shooter also killed his his wife and child, Col. Jackrapat Wijitwaitaya, who is in charge of the case, told NBC News. It is not clear whether officials were counting the three among the 34 who died at the daycare center.

Former policeman Panya Khamrab, who is alleged to have killed at least 30 people at a kindergarten on Thursday. AFP - Getty Images

Police named the suspected shooter as former police officer Panya Khamrab, who had served at Na Wang Police Station in Nong Bua Bamphu Province until he was arrested with methamphetamines. They did not provide further details on his background.

Khamrab entered the center at lunchtime, local official Jidapa Boonsom told Reuters, when about 30 children were present. One teacher who was shot dead was eight months pregnant, she said.

Pictures circulating on social media, which have not been verified by NBC News, show children's bodies lying prone in a room with alphabet posters and colorful learning material on the walls.

The prime minister has also ordered Lt. Gen. Yanyong Wech-Osoth, commander-in-chief of the police, to fly to Nong Bua Lamphu to help with the investigation.

Mass shootings are rare in Thailand, but not unknown.

In 2020, a soldier who was angry over a property deal gone sour killed at least 29 people and wounded 57 in a rampage that spanned four locations.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss said she was "shocked" by the news.