BEIJING - A Chinese man suspected of killing 12 relatives may have been helped by his father, state media said Monday, as grisly details of the mass murder in central Hunan province emerged.
Relatives said suspect Liu Aibing, 34, and his father had shot and hacked to death their family members in the village of Yinshanpai in the Hunan forests, torching some of their homes.
"That night the father and son both came to kill us ? they went from house to house killing close relatives," Liu Si'e, the aunt of the suspect, told Xinhua news agency.
"Before the killings they knocked on the door, we opened the door and they opened fire and began hacking with the machete. Then they torched the home.
"After the killing was over and the fire started, the father, Liu Bifang, committed suicide by diving into the flames."
Up to 1,000 police were involved in capturing the son in mountains near the village on Sunday. Earlier reports had indicated the father was a victim of the son's rampage.
A motive in the killings could have been a dispute over the father's wood products which had been sold by one of his murdered brothers, Xinhua said.
Numerous relatives also said the suspect was not mentally ill, as had been reported, but had only returned to the remote village several months ago after more than a decade living and working in southern Guangdong province.
Press reports on Monday also put the death toll at 13, saying one person had died in hospital of their injuries. But local police told Agence France-Presse (AFP) the official toll remained at 12.
"Liu Aibing was the only killer, he has a history of mental illness," a spokeswoman for Anhua county government, who refused to identify herself, told AFP by phone.
Anhua police refused further comment, saying the investigation was ongoing.
The Hunan killings are the latest in a number of family-related murders in China in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, police in southwest China captured a man suspected of murdering his parents and four other relatives after he escaped from a mental hospital in southwestern Yunnan province.
In late November, police in southern Hainan province captured a man suspected of hacking to death his parents, wife, sons and sister in Beijing.
A man suspected of the stabbing murders of six people committed suicide in Inner Mongolia on November 28.