A large group of armed "self-defence" civilians in Mexico have taken control over the town of Paracuaro in Michoacan state in a bid to rid the area of powerful drug cartels.

About 600 vigilantes stormed Paracuaro on Tuesday to regain control of the town from the Knights Templar gang and arrested federal police officers who they accused of having close ties to the cartel.

The group drove into Paracuaro in armoured vehicles, announcing: "Do not be scared, we are vigilantes", before they defeated the gang in a gun-fight and took over the main government buildings and police headquarters.

At least one person was killed in the battle.

The vigilantes rounded up officers who they accused of being in league with drug gangs and set up a checkpoint at the town's entrance.

The battle is the latest in the country's decades-long war on drug cartels.

Millions of Mexicans live in fear as drug gangs control larges areas in the country.

An increasing number of civilians in Mexico have taken up arms in a bid to regain control from powerful gangs, accusing police of either working with the cartels or not doing enough to get rid of them.

Source: Agencies