Chinese police have arrested a 27-year-old man on suspicion of killing 19 people in the south of the country, the worst case of mass murder by an individual in modern Chinese history, state media reported Thursday.
The victims - three of them children - were from six different families and their bodies were discovered Thursday morning in their homes in Yema village in the Huize district of Yunnan province.
The man was arrested hours later about 200 kilometres away in the provincial capital Kunming, Xinhua news agency said.
Local television stations showed him being led away in handcuffs and later being questioned by police.
The images also showed heavily armed members of police special units searching the scene of the crime.
Xinhua initially reported a killing spree, without elaborating. Details emerged only slowly during the day via China's heavily censored media.
Beijing News daily reported that police had ruled out a terrorist motive behind the killings.
The Chengdu Business Paper reported that the man had heavy gambling debts and had requested money from his family, but was refused, prompting his attack on them and neighbours.
There were no details on how the man carried out the killings. Guns are banned in China, so violent crimes tend to be restricted to knife, poison and homemade explosive attacks.
Yunnan experienced a mass killing two years ago, then carried out by several attackers who stabbed their victims at Kunming train station, resulting in 29 deaths. Four attackers were shot dead by police, who said they were terrorists.