Beijing - Police in north-eastern China have detained a man dubbed by media as the "taxi devil" after he confessed to killing six female passengers in a spree triggered by his wife's abortion.

Zhou Wen, 38, an ex-convict from Anshan city in Liaoning province, was detained at his home on November 28, the official Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday.

Xinhua said Zhou told police he had strangled or choked to death six young women who hailed his cab late at night and dumped their bodies in wells or open ground in a spate of murders that began in July.

"I began to hate women when my ex-wife aborted without my permission and I killed a woman who wanted to take revenge on her husband by having an affair with me," Zhou was quoted as saying in his confession.

According to Anshan Public Security Bureau, Zhou kept a diary of his murders.

"I jotted down the dates and places in case I couldn't remember them when I was caught," he was quoted as saying.

Many Anshan residents celebrated with fireworks when news broke of a suspect being detained, Xinhua said.

Several hundred taxi drivers took to the streets with national flags and logos saying they were glad someone had been detained for the offences.

"Our business has been affected by the rascal for months because no one dared to take a taxi at night," said a taxi driver named Zhang Li.

It was the latest in a string of serial murder cases to surface in China in the past month.

Last month, Chinese police arrested a farmer who had killed 17 people after luring them to his home, state media reported.

Authorities also arrested a man accused of killing 65 people, as well as a former migrant worker they say confessed to strangling to death 25 teenage boys.

Chinese media, reporting criminal trials, often quote police confirming a defendant's guilt

or confession before a sentence has been

announced. - Reuters