At least 34 persons, including 22 children, were killed in a mass shooting at a child care centre in Thailand on Thursday, Reuters reported, citing the authorities. The suspect, a former police officer, also killed his wife as well as his child and then took his own life.

Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s office said that the shooting occurred at the Child Development Center in Uthaisawan Na Klang district in Nong Bua Lamphu province, according to CNN.

“The man first shot four or five staff, including a teacher who was eight months pregnant,” a district official named Jidapa Boonsom told Reuters. “At first people thought it was fireworks.”

Earlier, the police had said that a search was underway to arrest the former police officer, who was discharged from duty for allegedly selling drugs. The prime minister had directed government agencies to help the injured persons and investigate the matter.

Mass shootings in Thailand are rare even though gun ownership is high compared with other countries in Southeast Asia.

In 2020, a soldier angry about a property deal had killed 29 persons and injured 57 others in a shooting spree that spanned four locations.