A gun battle between alleged cartel members killed at least eight people and injured one on Wednesday in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, according to local authorities.
According to the state prosecutor’s office, the violence occurred in Guachochi, one of the main cities in a remote mountainous territory inhabited by Indigenous Tarahumara people.
At a crossroads, “Eight lifeless people were found, three of them burned, as well as an injured male person, who was transferred for medical attention,” the official statement said.
Authorities also discovered two burned-out vans.
According to local media, the clash involved competing cells of the Sinaloa cartel, one of Mexico’s most powerful, and one of the fatalities was thought to be a local head of the criminal organisation.
The Tarahumara mountain area, located on one of the drug routes to the United States, has been rocked for years by violence linked to drug trafficking.
According to reports from Chihuahua newspapers, in recent weeks the clashes in Guachochi have intensified, forcing numerous people to leave the town of some 14,500 inhabitants.
A year ago, in Cerocahui, another town nestled in the mountains, Jesuit priests Javier Campos and Joaquin Mora were killed by a man who broke into a church while chasing a tour guide, who also died in the attack.
Mexico has recorded more than 350,000 killings, most attributed to criminal organizations, since the launch of a controversial military anti-drug strategy in December 2006.