Two UK medical students have been stabbed to death in Borneo.
Fourth-year students Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger, both 22, were on the Malaysian part of the island on attachment to a hospital in Kuching, said Newcastle University's acting vice-chancellor Professor Tony Stevenson.
Reports from the island claim the Britons were attacked and killed in the street by a gang of four local men after a row in a bar in Kuching early yesterday morning.
Prof 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 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."
The Malaysian state news agency Bernama reported that the attack happened at 4.15am in the Jalan Padungan area of Kuching in Sarawak province.
Sarawak deputy police commissioner Datuk Dr Chai Khin Chung told the agency the fight broke out after an argument in a bar over the students being too noisy. He added that the Britons were due to finish their training at the local hospital tomorrow and the four suspects were in custody.
Britain's 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.
"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.
"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 earlier this year and was particularly shocked this could have happened 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."