BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese police on Thursday arrested a man suspected of killing 19 people, including three children, found dead in different locations a remote southwestern village, state media and authorities said.

Mass killings are rare in China and the incident dominated discussion on social media platforms. It was not immediately clear how the victims were killed, or what the motive was.

Yang Qingpei, born in 1989, was arrested in Yunnan province's capital of Kunming, about 200 km (124 miles) from the site of the murders in Yema, Yunnan police said on their official microblog.

The victims were members of six families, said the official Xinhua news agency.

The bodies were found on Thursday at different locations in the village, a state-backed news website, ThePaper.cn, said, adding that the suspect had given authorities some details.

The public security bureau in the nearby city of Qujing told Reuters it was investigating.

(This story corrects spelling of 'Yunnan' in third paragraph.)

(Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard and Paul Carsten; Editing by Nick Macfie)