Mexico's Federal Police said three of its officers were killed and five others wounded in an attack by drug-cartel gunmen in the southern state of Guerrero.

Suspected members of the Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) outfit attacked a convoy of Federal Police vehicles traveling on the Siglo XXI highway, which links Morelia, capital of Michoacan state, to the Pacific coast.

Following the assault, which took place around 6:00 p.m. Thursday at a toll plaza in Feliciano, Guerrero, the gunmen sought refuge in the nearby town of La Union.

Police and army troops set out after the attackers, who commandeered and set fire to several freight trucks in a bid to slow down their pursuers.

Residents of several towns in Michoacan woke up on Thursday to see banners threatening attacks on the Federal Police. The messages purported to come from Los Caballeros, a breakaway faction of the La Familia Michoacana crime organization.

Los Caballeros, who have come to dominate the illegal drug trade in the western state, are accused of being behind murders, kidnappings and extortion rackets in Michoacan. EFE