EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Mexican police say five men were killed and a sixth one injured after a bloody confrontation between two rival cartels in southern Chihuahua.

Tuesday’s shooting in the town of Coronado prompted government offices to close and merchants to lock down their establishments as gunfire raged for more than 15 minutes nearby, Mexican news media reported.

Police recovered seven vehicles, four AR-15 and AK-47 style rifles and a fragmentary grenade from two different crime scenes, the Chihuahua Attorney General’s Office said in a statement. Most of the vehicles had bullet holes and two were set on fire.

The AG’s Office said the confrontation was between “armed groups” but did not identify them. A newspaper citing police sources said all those killed were members of the Sinaloa cartel and identified their attackers as La Linea (Juarez cartel).

Chihuahua state police officers secure the scene of the shooting in Coronado. (Courtesy State of Chihuahua)

“The prosecutors office has been notified and will be investigating; the forensic unit is processing the (crime) scene and transporting the bodies to the medical examiner,” the AG’s Office said. “A joint operation will remain in place in the area to guarantee the safety of the population.”

Several patrol cars also were sent to the hospital in Parral where the lone survivor is being cared for. A similar confrontation more than two years ago left five suspected cartel members dead, including three who were decapitated.

The shooting in Coronado took place a day after persons unknown dropped off a decapitated body in front of a church in Guachochi, about 170 miles west, and set a vehicle on fire. Authorities found the severed head a short distance from the church, local media reported.

“They shot up the church, they left a decapitated person outside and burned a vehicle. The temple has bullet holes outside and inside,” the Rev. Enrique Urzua, of the Santa Anita Catholic Church in Guachochi, said on Facebook Live. “I urge you, I beg you in the name of God and of this hurting and now abandoned town […] to leave your guns and stop hurting our communities. We are brothers […] This is not right.”

The priest also urged Chihuahua authorities to “do their job” and defend communities under attack from criminals.

Mexican drug cartel conflict map (Courtesy Global Guardian)

Southern and Western Chihuahua have been sites of bloody confrontations between gangs associated with the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels for at least the past four years, authorities and international security organizations say. Virginia-based Global Guardian in late 2022 published a map showing the entire state of Chihuahua as an area of conflict between the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels.