Vigilantes in Mexico launched an audacious assault on a Michoacan town and were apparently on the point of executing the local police when they were beaten back by a military counterattack.
Over a hundred heavily armed members of the Tepalcatepec self-defense group shot up the mayor's office in the town of Coalcoman before capturing seven members of the municipal police, reported Milenio.
The masked vigilantes disarmed, beat and tied up the police before taking them to the town plaza, where they were reportedly going to execute them.
However, the police were rescued after a 40-minute shootout between the vigilantes and the Mexican military and state police.
There were no reported injuries in the clash and the military say the area is now under its control.
On the same day as the attack, the mayor of Tepalcatepec, Guillermo Valencia Reyes, accused his predecessor Uriel Farias Arias, and a former leader from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Martin Barragan Cerna, of supporting the vigilantes, while also repeating suspicions the groups have ties to organized crime.
The assault came a day after self-defense forces elsewhere in Micoacan briefly seized control of the mayor's office in the municipality of Los Reyes amid calls for citizens to take up arms because the municipal police are "in the service of the CT [Caballeros Templarios or Knights Templar]."
InSight Crime Analysis
The situation in Michoacan appears to be deteriorating by the day, as the ever bolder self-defense groups face off not only against the dominant criminal force in the area -- the Knights Templar -- but also against the authorities, who the vigilantes accuse of working with the criminal group.
Whether the vigilantes in Michoacan are purely an expression of the communities' exasperation with the authorities' corruption and inability to provide security, or whether they are being manipulated by power-hungry politicians or the Knights' rivals in the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation -- as the authorities have claimed -- remains to be seen. Whatever lies behind the groups' rise, more violence in Michoacan seems inevitable.