St Lucia has apologised to three gay men who were robbed in what they say was a homophobic attack.

The Caribbean island’s government said it was “saddened” by the incident and extended “sincere apologies” to Todd Wiggins, Michael Baker and Nick Smith of Atlanta.

The trio were on holiday on the island earlier this month when a masked gang broke into their villa and robbed them of 5,000 East Caribbean dollars (£1,137) and personal items.

One of the men was treated in hospital for minor injuries.

After the attack, Mr Baker told the GA Voice that the attackers had used anti-gay slurs and threatened to kill them. Mr Wiggins said he believed the violence was worse because the gang thought they were gay.

The statement from the St Lucia government said: “St Lucia does not condone such acts of violence [that] appeared to be perpetrated by individuals whose views do not reflect sentiments of the majority of law-abiding citizens.

“Whether or not this crime was motivated by anti-gay sentiment, or during the course of robbery, it is nonetheless unacceptable behaviour and our destination will not tolerate it. Our law enforcement authorities are pursuing this matter relentlessly.”

One man is being held in custody in connection with the incident, police said.

Homosexuality is illegal in St Lucia.