MEXICO CITY — A shootout between members of a powerful drug cartel and Mexican security forces in the western state of Michoacan left at least 40 people dead Friday, according to Mexican officials.

The violence unfolded in the morning near the town of Tanhuato, along Michoacan’s border with the state of Jalisco, a troubled region where two drug cartels have waged a long-running battle and where attacks against Mexican authorities have recently spiked.

The killings involved the New Generation cartel of Jalisco and a convoy of federal police and soldiers. The governor of Michoacan, Salvador Jara, said on the radio that at least one policeman died, as well as 42 gunmen. Photographs from the scene showed authorities had recovered dozens of high-powered rifles. A federal police official confirmed that at least 40 people had died.

A priest at a nearby church, Manuel Navarro, said that he and his parishioners could see black smoke rising at the scene of the violence but that townspeople continued to work and go out in the streets.

“The people must be scared,” he said. “But what are we going to do? Everybody knows there were killings, but the people just say, ‘God help us.'”

The New Generation cartel has grown into one of the country’s most powerful drug gangs and has been involved in several large-scale attacks against authorities. In April, the group ambushed a convoy of state police officers, killing 15. This month, gunmen shot down a Mexican military helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade, killing six soldiers.


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