(Changes dateline to Guatemala City, May 26)


Five women, three of them minors, were raped by a gang of armed men who assaulted a farm near the town of Palin, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the Guatemalan capital, emergency management officials said.

The spokesman for Volunteer Firefighters, Mario Cuque, told reporters Friday that the women were taken "seriously injured and badly shaken" to the Escuintla National Hospital for medical attention.

According to the official report, armed men forced their way Thursday into the house on the Santa Maria farm in the municipality of Escuintla, where they made off with the belongings of the people who live there and raped the women.

"They shut the five women in a room and abused them sexually," Cuque said.

The victims ages 13, 14, 17, 18 and 53, whose identities were not revealed, were initially treated at the crime scene by the emergency management team.

Security forces are investigating the incident, he said.

On Tuesday, Guatemalan Interior Deputy Minister Julio Rivera told reporters that security forces are tracking a gang of "serial rapists" that operates in a busy area on the Guatemalan capital's west side, to which they attribute at least 18 attacks over the past few months.

The criminal gang assaults women they catch driving their cars alone and after raping them, they steal everything they have. EFE