A man in the eastern Russian city of Chita killed a 10-year-old boy with a hammer in an argument over stolen vegetables.

The man allegedly argued with the boy and his 12-year-old female cousin on Tuesday, at a plot of allotments outside the city, with both parties accusing the other of stealing vegetables from their land, according to local media reports.

The 35-year-old then attacked the children with a hammer, fatally injuring the boy and seriously injuring the girl.

When the children did not return home their families went in search of them, finding them injured at the plots.

The boy died of his wounds at the scene and the girl was taken to hospital, where she is in a life-threatening condition, reported RIA Novosti.

The suspect is accused leaving the scene of the attack and the next day travelling to work in the neighbouring region of Buryatia, where he was arrested.

The man confessed to "not being sober" at the time of the attack, the Investigative Committee for the Eastern Zabaikal region reported on its website.