Wednesday December 17, 2014
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Vigilantes stand guard during a blockade on a highway near the town of Uruapan, in Michoacan state December 14, 2014. — Reuters picVigilantes stand guard during a blockade on a highway near the town of Uruapan, in Michoacan state December 14, 2014. — Reuters picMEXICO CITY, Dec 17 — Mexican vigilante groups fighting drug cartels turned on each other yesterday in a shootout that left at least 11 dead, officials said.

The violence happened in Michoacan state in the west, one of the regions of Mexico most torn by drug-related violence.

Hipolito Mora, leader of one of the first groups that rose up in 2013 to fight cartels, said his son was one of those killed.

The central government's special commissioner for Michoacan, Alfredo Castillo, said 11 people were killed in the firefight in La Ruana, which is 550 kilometres from Mexico City.

Castillo blamed the fight on a "head on clash" between the two so-called self-defence groups.

The exact cause of the fight was not immediately known, however.

Self-defence groups rose up in 2013 in rural communities to fight a drug cartel called the Knights Templar, calling the police ineffective.

In May 2014 they accepted an offer from the government to become legal police units called rural forces.

The clash comes as Mexico is still grappling with the presumed murder of 43 students at the hands of a drug gang in the neighbouring state of Guerrero. — AFP

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