3 dead, arms cache seized near Mexican border city

Mexican soldiers seized a big cache of weapons after fighting a running gunbattle with drug cartel gunmen fleeing in a 17-vehicle convoy near a northern border city, the military said Thursday.

The Defense Department said three suspected gunmen were killed and three captured in the confrontation Wednesday.

Soldiers seized 83 assault rifles and shotguns, five grenade launchers and more than 18,000 rounds of ammunition as well as hand grenades, 18 pistols and about 17.5 pounds (8 kilograms) of marijuana, a statement said.

Pictures from the scene released by the military show some of the seized articles marked "CDG," the initials of the Gulf drug cartel. The gang operates in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas.

The military statement said gunmen in the convoy opened fire on a military helicopter when it detected them.

When soldiers on the ground began chasing the convoy, the suspected cartel gunmen fled over dirt roads on the outskirts of Matamoros.

The vehicles in the convoy split up in an apparent attempt to avoid capture. Most of the gunmen then tried to flee on foot, leaving most of the vehicles abandoned on dirt roads.