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Drug baron eludes police in battle

A gunbattle between soldiers and suspected cartel gunmen left several people dead in the northern Mexico border city of Matamoros, officials said.

Federal security spokesman Alejandro Poire said in a Twitter posting that investigators are still working to identify the dead but it does not appear that Zetas drug cartel leader Heriberto "El Lazca" Lazcano was among them.

He was responding to a media report that Lazcano had been killed in the gunbattle.

"With the information available at this point, Heriberto Lazcano does not appear to be among the dead in Matamoros," Mr Poire wrote.

The shootout occurred in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas. The area has seen frequent battles between the Zetas and their rivals in the Gulf cartel.

Lazcano is considered the top leader of the Zetas, considered Mexico's most bloodthirsty major cartel.

The United States is offering five million US dollars and Mexico another 2.5 million US dollars in rewards for information leading to Lazcano's arrest.

Mr Poire did not specify the number of dead in the shootout. Mexico's federal police and attorney general's office said they had no information, and Mr Poire wrote that the Defence Department would provide further details later.

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