Craig Stephen Hicks
Craig Stephen Hicks allegedly turned himself to police after killing three Muslim students. Chapel Hill police department/handout

Dozens of Twitter users have expressed their outrage at what they perceive as "mainstream media silence" over the killing of three Muslim students at a university in North Carolina.

It is believed that the three youths - identified as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21 and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19 - were killed by Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, who turned himself into police.

The triple homicide occurred at around 5pm local time. However, major US media outlets including CNN and LA Times, as well as news channels in other countries, only reported the murder several hours after it had occurred.

Hicks was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder, according to a report on the News and Observer. He is being held in Durham County Jail.

Allthough the motive behind the attack is not yet clear, a Facebook page bearing Hicks' name, accompanied by atheist slogans, has triggered speculation that the attack is religion-motivated.