Mexican soldiers in May.
Military personnel guard the Attorney's General Office hangar during the presentation of Gulf Cartel (CDG) drug kingpin Juan Manuel Rodriguez Garcia in Mexico City May 25, 2014. REUTERS/Bernardo Montoya

Five gunmen were killed on Thursday in a shootout with authorities in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas after members of the federal police responded to calls that at least two big-wheeler trucks had been set on fire and were blocking a highway between the cities of Tampico and El Mante, according to Aristegui Noticias. Police say they were attacked when they arrived upon the scene, launching a battle which lasted for several hours. Among weapons seized were a grenade launcher and two grenades, two high-caliber weapons, and a shotgun.

CNN reports that the body of one armed man was found inside a pickup truck on the scene, while three others were found outside of the truck and a fifth underneath a big-wheeler which had been used to block the highway. The Mexican department of justice says it is carrying out tests to determine the identity of the men killed. Tamaulipas has become a main front of sorts for the federal government’s anti-cartel efforts; on May 13 it unveiled a new security strategy for the state amid a wave of violence said to be linked at least in part to turf wars between the Gulf cartel and their rival Zetas.

Last week Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto visited the port of Tampico during a Navy Day celebration. He was met by more than 500 demonstrators who gathered, simply, to call for “results” in public security. Kidnappings and extortions are rising there. So are homicides -- 39 people were killed in March, and 75 in April, according to Terra. The government’s plan creates four new branches of the attorney general’s office in the state, among other measures, but authorities say they are aiming to get the situation under control within six months.

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