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Vigilantes say Mexico government persecuting them

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Leaders of Mexican vigilante groups fighting a drug cartel in western Michoacan state say they are being persecuted by criminals but also by authorities, who recently detained one of their top leaders.

Vigilante spokesman Estanislao Beltran said Sunday the "self-defense" groups' leadership met this weekend to try to form a united front to demand that the Mexican government live up to its promises of bringing security to Michoacan and forming a national guard.

One local vigilante group leader says in an audio message posted on the Internet that the groups are, in his words, "being persecuted by the Knights Templar, the army, the navy and all the police departments."

Authorities last week charged vigilante leader Hipolito Mora in the killing of two members of a rival vigilante faction.

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