Eight people, including at least six Asian women, have been killed in shootings at three different spas in the US state of Georgia.

Police said four people were killed at a massage parlour in Acworth, a suburb north of Atlanta, and four more at two spas in the city itself.

Officials said a 21-year-old man had been arrested and was believed to be the suspect in all three attacks.

No motive for Tuesday’s shootings has yet been established.

However, hate crimes against Asian-Americans have spiked in recent months, fuelled by rhetoric that blames Asian people for the spread of Covid-19.

In an address last week, President Joe Biden condemned “vicious hate crimes against Asian-Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated.”

The first shooting happened at about 17:00 (21:00 GMT) at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor in Acworth, Cherokee County.

Sheriff’s office spokesman Capt Jay Baker said two people died at the scene and three were taken to hospital, where two more died. He later confirmed that the victims were two Asian women, a white woman and a white man, and that a Hispanic man had been wounded.

image captionTwo of the spas were across the road from each other in Atlanta

Less than an hour later, police were called to a “robbery in progress” at Gold Spa in north-east Atlanta.

“Upon arrival, officers located three females deceased inside the location from apparent gunshot wounds,” police said in a statement.

While there, officers were called to a spa across the street, called Aromatherapy Spa, where they found another woman shot dead.

Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said it appeared that the victims were Asian. Reuters reported that, in the Cherokee County attack, a white woman and a white man were among those killed.

Investigators who had studied CCTV footage then released images of a suspect near one of the spas. Police said that, after a manhunt, Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, Georgia, was arrested in Crisp County, about 150 miles (240km) south of Atlanta.

Capt Baker said investigators were “very confident” that the same suspect was the gunman in all three shootings.

media captionTracy Win Liu says she bought a gun after being faced with coronavirus-related racism