msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 2/13/2012 11:33:44 AM ET 2012-02-13T16:33:44

South Korean police have arrested a Christian pastor and his wife over the deaths of their three children. The parents are accused of whipping and starving the children in an attempt to cast out demons.

Police said Monday that the couple was arrested Saturday after their 10-year daughter and two sons aged eight and five were found dead at their home in the southern county of Boseong.

The children's hands had been bound, BBC News reported.

Authorities say the couple told investigators they stopped feeding their children and beat them with a belt and a fly swatter to drive away evil spirits.

An autopsy indicated that the children had not eaten since January 23, the BBC reported, citing local journalists.

Investigators say the couple cited a Biblical proverb that reads "Do not withhold discipline from a child."

Police say the husband was pastor of an obscure Protestant congregation called Hyungjae (Brother) Church.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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