Thirteen people from the Nigerian state of Omuokere Aluu have been arrested for the murders of four Uniport (University of Port Harcourt) students.

The male victims, named as Ugonna, Ilyod, Tekana and Chidiaka, were stripped naked, severely beaten and burnt alive after allegedly stealing BlackBerry phones and laptops.

According to local reports, the students were accused of being members of a gang of armed robbers. They were hunted down by vigilantes from the village who accused the police of doing nothing.

A video of the incident was published on the internet. The four-minute clip shows the lynch mob attacking the victims, before putting tyres on their necks and setting them ablaze. The video is too graphic to show here.

One viewer said: "Signs of a failed country. Nobody has the right to waste a human being the way these guys were humiliated and killed. This is 2012, for God's sake. It's a shameful act and shouldn't be allowed to happen again."

Another wrote: "Even if they were found to be robbers, does that give the community the right to take laws into their own hands? If these boys are innocent of the crimes they are accussed off, may their blood call for vengance."

Rivers State police spokesman Ben Ugwuegbulam appealed for calm and urged friends and relations of the victims not to seek revenge.

He told the BBC: "The Rivers State police command is strongly opposed to such barbaric conduct.

"The command sympathises with the families of the slain students and also appeals to them not to take the laws into their hands. Students of the university are urged not to engage in any reprisal attack as such could lead to chaos and anarchy."

The university has declared seven days of mourning in memory of the students.

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