Morelia – At least five suspected members of Mexico's Los Caballeros Templarios drug cartel died in shootouts over the weekend with soldiers in the western state of Michoacan, the army said.
Four men who opened fire with assault rifles on an army convoy on a road in Tuzantla, a city in northern Michoacan, were killed early Sunday, the 21st Military Zone said.
The gunmen were traveling in three vehicles - two SUVs and an automobile - bearing the gang's logo.
At least 10 other gunmen managed to escape, leaving behind AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles, as well as a grenade, the army said.
Another suspected gunman died in a separate shootout with soldiers in Benito Juarez, a city next to Tuzantla, the 21st Military Zone said.
A man being held captive by Los Caballeros Templarios was freed after the gunman's slaying, the army said.
Soldiers seized four SUVs, all of which bore the gang's logo, following the shootout.
At least 21 suspected Caballeros Templarios gunmen died in shootouts with army troops across Michoacan over the weekend.
Los Caballeros Templarios was founded by former members of the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel earlier this year.
Servando Gomez Martinez shares the leadership of Los Caballeros Templarios with Enrique Plancarte.
The La Familia faction led by Jesus Mendez, who was arrested in June, has been fighting the group led by Gomez and Plancarte, who formed Los Caballeros Templarios in March.
La Familia Michoacana has been badly weakened by the arrests and killings of several of its top leaders, and the creation of Los Caballeros Templarios.
The cartel began unraveling after top boss Nazario Moreno's death in a shootout with the Federal Police in December 2010, officials and analysts say.