Three Mexican soldiers were killed in a clash with armed men in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, a hot spot in Mexico's drug violence, a local official said Tuesday.
"Several soldiers with gunshot wounds were taken to hospital with a military escort. Three of them died," said an official from the Sinaloa prosecutor's office, requesting anonymity.
The soldiers were targeted in three almost simultaneous attacks late Monday in Guasave, a city of more than 100,000 inhabitants near the Pacific coast, the official said.
Locals took refuge in nearby buildings during subsequent shootouts while traffic was disrupted for several hours.
Sinaloa, the cradle of Mexico's drug trafficking industry, is one of the country's most violent states, home to the powerful Sinaloa cartel led by billionaire fugitive Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
The soldiers' deaths added to 39 soldiers killed in clashes with outlaws in the past five years, according to the defense ministry.
More than 50,000 people have died in Mexico in suspected drug-related violence since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon deployed tens of thousands of troops to take on the country's warring drug gangs.