Two British medical students who were stabbed to death in Malaysia this morning were killed by a gang of men after a row in a bar, reports from the island of Borneo claim.
The Newcastle University students Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger, both 22, were on attachment to a hospital in the city of Kuching during their fourth year of studies - and were supposed to finish on Friday.
Four suspects are in custody.
The Malaysian State News Agency Bernama reported that the attack happened at 4.15am in the Jalan Padungan area of Kuching in Sarawak province, in the west of the Malaysian part of Borneo.
Sarawak deputy police commissioner Datuk Dr Chai Khin Chung said the fight broke out after an argument in a bar over the students being too noisy.
He added that the Britons had been due to finish their training at the local hospital on Friday.
The pair had gone into a cafe or bar in the Jalan Padungan area where they were approached by one of four young men who complained that they were being too loud, the reports said.
After an argument, the students left but the men followed them in a car. At some point one of the four locals got out of the vehicle, a Malaysian-made Perodua Viva, and attacked Mr Dalton and Mr Brunger.
Police said four men had been detained, three of them shortly after the incident, and a fourth on Wednesday afternoon. The state’s deputy police chief, Datuk Chai Khin Chung, said the knife allegedly used in the attack and the suspects’ vehicle had also been seized. Forensic teams had examined the site of the attack
“Technically, the case is solved with the recovery of the knife believed to have been used in the murder,” Mr Chai was quoted as saying.
Newcastle University's acting vice-chancellor Professor Tony Stevenson said in a statement: "We were informed this morning of the very sad news that two of our fourth-year medical students working at a hospital in Kuching, Borneo, have been tragically killed.
"Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger, both 22, were on a six-week work placement, along with five other medical students, to put the skills they had learnt during their time here at the university into practice.
"This has come as a huge shock to us all and our thoughts are with their families and friends at this very difficult time.
"Two of our members of staff are flying out to Kuching as soon as possible and we are working closely with the British high commissioner to support the other students and to co-ordinate their return to the UK."
The Foreign Office said it was aware of the deaths and was providing consular assistance to the men's families.
Professor Jane Calvert, Dean of Undergraduate Studies for Newcastle University Medical School said they were excellent, highly committed students who were doing well at their studies.
She said: "We heard this morning about the tragic death of two of our students who were working out in east Malaysia.
"They were doing what thousands of medical students do every year, they were on an elective to experience clinical practice in a different setting, to learn from that and enhance their practice when they came back.
"I didn't know them personally but they were well known by the programme director and teachers on the course and we are all so shocked and saddened by this.
"They were excellent students they were doing really well with their studies, they were highly committed and coming back next year to work as doctors.
"Aidan was aspiring to do some medical research on his return, Neil was going straight into his final year and it's such a tragic thing to occur."
Prof Calvert said she had been on holiday to Kuching herself earlier this year and was particularly shocked something like this could happen there.
"I don't think it related to the fact the students were in this particular location, it was just a very, very unfortunate occurrence," she said.
"For all our students going on elective all the risks are looked at and we're very careful not to let them go to places that are known to be of high risk.
"Where they were working is a very nice place, I was there myself earlier in the year and I was especially shocked to hear it had happened there."
Additional reporting by Independent and PA