One drug cartel gunman was killed and four others captured in a clash with soldiers in the western state of Michoacan, the Mexican army said.

The battle took place around 5:00 p.m. Wednesday on a dirt road linking the towns of Villamar and Jiquilpan, according to a statement from the command of the 21st Military Zone, headquartered in Morelia, Michoacan's capital.

The troops intercepted five gunmen traveling in an SUV and a firefight ensued.

After the soldiers killed one of the gunmen and incapacitated two others, the two remaining suspects surrendered.

One soldier was wounded in the exchange of fire.

Armed with assault rifles and automatic pistols, the gunmen were part of the Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) drug cartel, the 21st Military Zone said.

More than 100 suspects have been apprehended by the army troops and Federal Police deployed in Michoacan since Jan. 13 to rein in the Templarios, authorities say.

In a related development, the state government said two suspected Templarios were arrested after a running gunbattle between cartel members and a self-defense group in the municipality of Los Reyes.

The clash came the same day the federal commissioner for Security and Development in Michoacan, Alfredo Castillo, announced that the Los Reyes vigilantes had joined other Michoacan militias in signing up for a Rural Defense Corps operating under the aegis of the army.

While the Templarios' main business is supplying crystal meth and other synthetic drugs to the U.S. market, the group has sidelines in extortion and kidnapping for ransom.

Exasperated by the cartel's crimes and the lack of response from authorities, more than a dozen Michoacan communities began forming armed self-defense units, the first of which debuted in February 2013. EFE