Five suspected members of the Los Caballeros Templarios drug cartel were gunned down over the weekend by vigilantes in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, prosecutors said.

The cartel gunmen were killed in a shootout around noon Sunday with armed civilians in the city of Aguililla.

Aguililla is near Apatzingan, the main area of operations of the Caballeros Templarios.

The shootout occurred hours after suspected drug traffickers opened fire and threw homemade bombs at 18 electric substations and five service stations in Michoacan.

The attacks were apparently staged by gunmen on the payroll of the Caballeros Templarios, a gang that broke off from the Familia Michoacana criminal organization in December 2010, a Michoacan government official said.

The attacks were carried out nearly simultaneously shortly after members of community self-defense groups tried to expel the drug traffickers from Apatzingan, the Michoacan Attorney General's Office said.

The cartel gunmen used assault rifles, pistols and homemade bombs to attack the electric substations belonging to the Federal Electricity Commission, or CFE, which provides power to states in central and western Mexico.

The Caballeros Templarios cartel operates in Michoacan and the Tierra Caliente region, which straddles Michoacan, Guerrero and Mexico states.

The cartel deals in both synthetic drugs and natural drugs, and it commits murders, stages kidnappings and runs extortion rackets that target business owners and transport companies, affecting everyday life.

Michoacan's forests and mountains are used by drug traffickers to grow marijuana and produce synthetic drugs. 

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