At least five people have been killed in the western Mexican state of Michoacan after armed men launched daring grenade attacks on federal police in the region.

In the city of Nueva Italia, drug-gang members burned vehicles on streets, set up road blocks and opened fire on
police officers on Friday.


According to Mexico's public security ministry, police responded with gunfire to repel attacks, killing five gang members and injuring five officers.

Authorities have not confirmed if any police were killed in the firefight.

A local Michoacan newspaper, Cambio, reported assailants also attacked a nearby hospital as they looked for injured police.

Violence spread into the municipality of Apatzingan as police gave chase. Assailants blocked area roads and highways with burnt-out vehicles to impede pursuing police.

Mexican authorities cordoned off the area to search for the armed men, but no arrests were reported.

Michoacan, which is President Felipe Calderon's home state, has been plagued with violence as rival gangs fight
over lucrative methamphetamine trafficking routes and vast marijuana fields.

Nationally, drug violence has killed more than 55,000 people since Calderon launched an army-led crackdown on
drug cartels and organised crime after taking office nearly six years ago.

Source: Agencies