Opponents of Mexican vigilantes burn trucks

Two trucks and a bus were burned Thursday by residents of a western Mexico town who reject the presence of vigilantes confronting a drug cartel, authorities said.

The arrival of the growing civilian militia movement in the town of Paracuaro last weekend has raised tensions in the troubled state of Michoacan.

Paracuaro Mayor Lucia Barajas Vazquez has asked the army to intervene to free 11 police officers who were detained by the vigilantes, saying her townspeople oppose the militia.

Protesters have blocked the road leading to the town several times since the self-defense forces arrived last Saturday, burning two buses earlier this week.

On Thursday, several "armed people" seized two merchandise trucks and a passenger bus before setting them on fire, Michoacan state attorney general Marco Vinicio Aguilera told AFP.

A state government official, who requested anonymity, said residents opposed to the vigilantes were responsible for the blazes.

Civilian militias first emerged in Michoacan's lime and avocado growing region early last year to fight off the Knights Templar drug cartel and they have now seized around 20 towns.

The vigilantes say they had no choice but to take up arms because local police were unable or unwilling to stop the murders and extortion rackets plaguing their communities.

The Knights Templar claim that the vigilantes are proxy militias for the rival Jalisco New Generation cartel, a charge the civilian forces deny.