Mexican vigilantes kill 5 alleged cartel supporters, demobilization begins

Five suspected drug cartel supporters are dead after vigilantes fighting the Knights Templar cartel in western Mexico engaged in a shootout with them on the outskirts of one of the cartel's last strongholds.

The shootings come as the federal government announces the beginning of the "demobilization" of the vigilante "self-defense" movement, which rose up a year ago to fight the cartel's extortion demands.

Prosecutors in western Michoacan state confirmed Monday that the five dead belonged to a pseudo-vigilante group that had been financed by the gang to stem the advance of the self-defense movement.

Federal police officers said the shootings occurred on the outskirts of the seaport of Lazaro Cardenas, as the self-defense forces tried to push further into the city.