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Heavy fighting broke in northern Mexico after the security forces seized one of the sons of jailed drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
Fighting raged for several hours after Ovidio Guzmán López was found during a routine patrol in the city of Culiacán.
Footage on Mexican TV showed armed men with heavy weapons firing on police, with vehicles, bodies and burning barricades strewn across the street.
Mr Guzmán was later released – to avoid further violence, the authorities said.
Mexico’s security minister, Alfonso Durazo, said a patrol of National Guard militarised police came under heavy fire from within the house where Mr Guzmán was being held, forcing them to retreat for their own safety.
Mr Guzmán was arrested but later released, “to avoid more violence in the area and preserve the lives of our personnel and recover calm in the city”, Mr Durazo said.
Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he would hold a meeting of his security cabinet to discuss the incident.
Mr Obrador was elected on a platform of cracking down on Mexico’s drug cartels, and has tasked a new security force, the National Guard, with fighting them.
Under El Chapo’s leadership, the Sinaloa cartel was the biggest supplier of drugs to the US, officials say.
With El Chapo now behind bars, the cartel is said to be partially controlled by Ovidio Guzmán, who is accused of drug trafficking in the US.