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Federal forces to take over security in part of western Mexico as vigilantes clash with cartel

  • Men belonging to the Self-Defense Council of Michacan, (CAM), ride on a sandbag filled truck while trying to flush out alleged members of the Knights Templar drug cartel from the town of Nueva Italia, Mexico, Sunday Jan. 12, 2014. The vigilantes say they are liberating territory in the so-called Tierra Caliente and are aiming for the farming hub of Apatzingan, said to be the cartel's central command. Mexican military troops are staying outside the town and there are no federal police in sight. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)The Associated Press

  • A wounded man belonging to the Self-Defense Council of Michacan, (CAM), is taken away during a firefight while trying to flush out alleged members of the Knights Templar drug cartel from the town of Nueva Italia, Mexico, Sunday Jan. 12, 2014. The vigilantes say they are liberating territory in the so-called Tierra Caliente and are aiming for the farming hub of Apatzingan, said to be the cartel's central command. Mexican military troops are staying outside the town and there are no federal police in sight. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)The Associated Press

  • A man belonging to the Self-Defense Council of Michacan, (CAM), dressed in a skeleton costume, stands while organizing as they prepare to move into the larger town of Nueva Italia to flush out alleged members of the Knights Templar drug cartel in the town of Antunez, Mexico, Sunday Jan. 12, 2014. The vigilantes say they are liberating territory in the so-called Tierra Caliente and are aiming for the farming hub of Apatzingan, said to be the cartel's central command. Mexican military troops are staying outside the town and there are no federal police in sight. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)The Associated Press

A top Mexican official says federal forces will take over security in a large swath of a western Mexico state where dozens of vigilante groups have formed to fight drug traffickers.

Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong says federal forces with support from Michoacan state police will patrol an area in the state known as Tierra Caliente, the home base of the Knights Templar drug cartel.

Osorio Chong made the announcement Monday after a meeting called by the state's governor following a weekend of firefights between the so-called self-defense groups and drug traffickers.

Osorio Chong says federal authorities will go after anyone acting outside the law. He calls for self-defense group members to return to their villages.