Two British students have been stabbed to death on the island of Borneo.

Newcastle University medical students Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger were on the Malaysian part of the island on attachment to a hospital in Kuching, the university's acting vice-chancellor Professor Tony Stevenson said.

Reports from the island claim the men were attacked and killed in the street by a gang of four local men after a row in a bar in Kuching early this morning.

A local police commissioner said that three of four suspects, aged 19, 23 and 29, had been detained.

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, 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."

He added: "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."