Mexican soldiers shot dead 12 alleged criminals who refused to stop at a military checkpoint in the troubled eastern state of Veracruz, state officials said.
The gun battle broke out around 2 pm (1900 GMT) near a military checkpoint outside Xalapapa, the capital of Veracruz state, located some 430 kilometers (270 miles) east of Mexico City.
The alleged criminals were traveling aboard several vehicles. When the soldiers ordered them to halt, they continued to drive and opened fire, according to a statement from the Veracruz prosecutor's office.
The soldiers fired back "and shot down the 12 alleged criminals," the statement read.
Veracruz is in the grip of a turf battle between the Zetas drug gang -- set up by former commandos-turned-hitmen in the 1990s -- and their former employers, the Gulf drug cartel. The Zetas are also at war with the powerful Sinaloa cartel of billionaire fugitive Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
More than 50,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon launched an all-out war against the nation's drug gangs on taking office in December 2006.
The government's official count of more than 47,000 dead has not been updated since September.