A mob captured and prepared to lynch a U.S. citizen in a Guatemalan tourist town before police intervened and took the man into custody, officials said Saturday.

The 41-year-old man was accused by the group of raping an 11-year-old girl, said Nicolas Chabajay, head of Panajachel police.

Police persuaded the group of about 40 people to turn over the American to officers who will investigate the allegation, Chabajay said.

CountryWatch:Guatemala

Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala confirmed the arrest, saying consular officials had gone to visit the American, whose name and home state were not immediately released.

Guatemala has a history of mobs taking justice into their own hands. Between 1996 and 2005, more than 350 people were killed in lynchings, according to the United Nations.

Located about 60 miles from Guatemala City, Panajachel sits on Lake Atitlan and is popular with European and U.S. tourists for its scenery and Indian handicrafts.

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