Mexican druglord's son freed to save lives as streets turn into 'war zone'

Mexican security forces have released the captured son of drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman from a house where he was briefly apprehended after a shootout.

Security Minister Alfonso Durazo says the decision was taken to protect lives.

Durazo's comments followed an earlier statement that did not fully clarify whether the accused drug trafficker, Ovidio Guzman, was still in custody, following hours of intense gunbattles in the northern city of Culiacan.

Cartel gunmen on the streets of Culiacán in Mexico. Source: Twitter / @JimmySecUK

Members of the National Guard and army were patrolling in Culiacan when they were fired on from a house.

They repelled the attack and inside the house found Ovidio Guzman Lopez.

The house was then surrounded by heavily armed gunmen who had "a greater force" and authorities decided to suspend the operation, Mr Durazo said.

Videos published on social media showed a scene resembling a war zone, with gunmen, some wearing black ski masks over their faces, riding in the back of trucks firing mounted machine guns as vehicles burned.

Multiple burning vehicles after an earlier firefight, in photo posted online. Source: Twitter

People could be seen running for cover as machine-gun fire rattled around them.

Drivers drove in reverse frantically to move away from the clashes. Some drivers rolled under their stationary cars for cover.

State officials asked residents to avoid going out in parts of city.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play and stay up to date with the latest news with Yahoo’s daily newsletter. Sign up here.