Police in China have arrested a man suspected of killing 19 people, including three children, in a mountainous south-western village. Yang Qingpei, 27, is suspected to have committed the horrific murders, which included a three-year-old child, in Yema, Yunnan Province, near the border with Myanmar.

Yang was said to have been arrested in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province about 124 miles, from the scene of the crime. The official Xinhua news agency say victims were members of six families, but the state-controlled agency has not revealed how the victims were killed, or the suspected motive.

The bodies were said to have been found on Thursday (29 September) at different locations in the village. Reuters reported that the public security bureau in the nearby city of Qujing was investigating.

The New York Times said that Xinhua later provided more details about the alleged murders. They said that police believe Yang, who worked in Kunming, had returned home and asked his parents for money.

An argument ensued and he killed them on Wednesday evening and in a gruesome effort to conceal his crime, he killed another 17 people. The newspaper said the reports, written in for China-based readers, say that officers witnessed a confession to the murders by Yang.

There is little in official details emerging from the country. Chinese media is heavily state-censored and accusations of government interference with reports such as this are rife. President Xi Jinping has strengthened the Communist Party's control of organisations such as state broadcaster CCTV, official news agency Xinhua, and Beijing's flagship newspaper, the People's Daily.

The New York Times said that the Beijing News reported that Yang was a native of the village. The Chengdu Economic Daily said they spoke to a former classmate of Yang's, who revealed he had racked up large gambling debts while working in Kunming.

Police have confirmed that the attack was not terror-related in a bid to allay fears from locals that the incident could have been a repeat of an attack by militants from Xinjiang in Kunming two years ago, which left 29 people dead. Another reason for the lack of reporting could also be the village's remoteness, which is located high in the mountains, above 8,000ft in an area known for growing lilies and strawberries.