Six charged with raping Britons on St Lucia

Six men have been charged with the rape of two British women on the Caribbean island of St Lucia, officials said today.

The victims, aged 24 and 31, were attacked by a gang of masked men last Tuesday on an isolated stretch of Grande Anse beach, in the north east of the country.

They were volunteering on a wildlife conservation project run by a British-based charity when the late night incident occurred.

The suspects, who are local to St Lucia but yet to be named, are due in court later this month, police said in a statement.

Officials said the two women were in the country working on a project run by the British-based charity and St Lucia's Ministry of Agriculture.

The St Lucia government has launched an investigation to determine how they came to be alone on the isolated beach at midnight, a Ministry of Agriculture official said.

British High Commissioner Karl Burrows described the attack as "a dreadful crime".

He advised British visitors to the island to exercise caution as they would anywhere else, saying that crimes against British tourists were not widespread on the island.

Around 67,000 British nationals visited St Lucia last year.

Foreign Office travel advice states that most visits are trouble-free but warns that there are incidents of violent crime, including murder, which tend to occur within the local community but can sometimes affect tourists.