Mexican vigilantes have been involved in clashes with government troops in the western state of Michoacan.
The militia formed to oust the Knights Templar drugs cartel at work in the area.
The self-defence group rejected government calls to disarm:
“Why should we give up our weapons when the government doesn’t do its job. If we give up our weapons the Knights Templar will come and kill us. What will the government do? They are paid off by the cartels,” said a member of the self-defence group.
The vigilantes first came to light in 2013 in response to the violence inflicted on the area by the drugs cartel.
Locals say they had no choice but to take up arms.
The mayor of Nueva Italia, Casi Miro Quezada, explained the relationship between the militia and the residents: “The people were scared to go out at night maybe its not a good idea to disarm the self-defence groups. I say again the people here feel comfortable with them around.”
The Knights Templar, involved in supplying the drug crystal meth to the US, says the vigilantes are in partnership with the rival New Generation cartel.
Something the self-defence groups deny.