10 Die in shootouts in western Mexico

Morelia, Mexico, Apr 29 (EFE).- At least 10 people died and four others were wounded in shootouts involving suspected drug traffickers and members of one of the self-described community police forces in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, Federal Police spokesmen said.

The shootouts lasted from the early morning hours to around noon on Sunday and involved the Los Caballeros Templarios drug gang and the community police force in La Ruana, a town outside the city of Buenavista Tomatlan, the police spokesmen said.

Six of the 10 men killed belonged to the drug gang and the other four were members of the community police, a group founded on Feb. 24 to fight Los Caballeros Templarios in Michoacan's Tierra Caliente region, the Federal Police spokesmen said.

Bus service in the area was suspended for about eight hours due to the violence.

Police later broke up a demonstration by several hundred people against the federal government and the community police in Uruapan, a city located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Buenavista.

The protests were organized by Los Caballeros Templarios, the Federal Police said.

The Caballeros Templarios gang was founded in March 2011 by former members of the La Familia Michoacana cartel and deals in both synthetic drugs and natural drugs.

The cartel has been fighting rival gangs for control of turf and smuggling routes in Guerrero and Michoacan states, both of which are on the Pacific.

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

The war on drugs launched by former President Felipe Calderon, who was in office from 2006 to 2012, left about 70,000 people dead, or an average of 32 per day, in Mexico, officials say.

Calderon, of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, deployed thousands of soldiers and Federal Police officers across the country to fight drug cartels.