Christian gang arrested in Guatemala

Police in Guatamala say they have arrested a gang of armed bandits who extorted people, imposed Christian fundamentalist values and may have killed five people in a small town.

Police in Guatemala have arrested a gang of religious fanatics on suspicion of possessing illegal weapons and extortion, and the possible murder of five people in a small town.

San Lucas Toliman, about 70 kilometres west of Guatemala City, was the target of the seven men, who called themselves the Social Cleansing of the Town, police allege.

They are also alleged to have killed as many as five people they considered criminals. Part of their purported work also involved setting up their own roadside checkpoints to charge travellers to pass through.

"This was a fundamentalist Christian organization in character that harangued the town's population on religious themes," said Victor Soto, head of the national criminal investigations unit.

The group allegedly targeted anyone suspected of not following the Bible, including taking part in theft or marital infidelity, said police.

Their work started with delivering notes containing biblical quotations and threats.

The seven are being held while police carry out ballistics tests.