GUAMANLOMA, Ecuador (AP) _ Doling out vigilante justice, highland villagers partially stripped and whipped two women in a public square after accusing them of being swindlers.

Journalists at the scene said residents of this mountain town, 80 miles south of Quito, seized the pair on Wednesday after they allegedly tried to pass off fake winning lottery tickets in exchange for money and household appliances.

The villagers forced them to strip down to their underwear before whipping them with bunches of nettles. They were doused with cold water and locked into a small room overnight.

Public beatings are sometimes carried out in isolated Andean villages in accord with Ecuadoran legal practices that allow Indian communities not served by police to apply vigilante justice.

On Thursday, the women, both around 30 years old and from Quito, Ecuador's capital, were forced to march in front of hundreds of people who had assembled in a school courtyard. The reporters said that the women wept as they asked for forgiveness and acknowledged wrongdoing.

The reporters said that two men then poured gasoline on them and threatened to set them on fire. The women were whipped again as they begged to be set free.

It wasn't clear if they had been released by later Friday.

The reporters said that no police arrived and authorities had no comment on the incident. Ecuadorean officials rarely intervene in the remote Indian communities scattered throughout the high Andes Mountains.