Four men suspected of raping and murdering a vet have been shot dead by police.

They were arrested in southern India and taken into custody but had not been formally charged with any crime.

They were then taken by officers to the crime scenes where they allegedly forced themselves on Priyanka Reddy, 27, before murdering her and setting her on fire.

Her body was discovered less than half a mile from the scene of the rape which happened when a lorry driver stopped to help her with a flat tyre.

Previously an Indian MP said that her rapists and murderers should be ‘brought out in public and lynched’.

Officials say that one of the suspects tried to grab an officer’s gun to escape, but an MP says the officers had taken the law into their own hands.

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About 300 people gathered at the crime scene in Shadnagar, near Hyderabad, to praise police for killing the suspects.

Some hugged officers and lifted them into the air chanting ‘long live police,’ while others showered them with flowers.

But in New Delhi, some observers condemned the police killing.

Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association Kavita Krishnan said: ‘This type of justice is counterfeit. The killings are a ploy to shut down our demand of accountability from governments, judiciary and police, and dignity and justice for women. We demand a thorough investigation into this.’

Maneka Gandhi, an MP from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and a former Cabinet minister, accused police of taking the law into their own hands.

She said: ‘They would’ve been hanged by court anyway. If you’re going to kill the accused before any due process of law has been followed, then what’s the point of having courts, law and police?’