• But Mexican security forces were quickly overwhelmed by cartel soldiers, who attacked with heavy weapons and set up road blockades, using burning vehicles.
  • To prevent more casualties, Guzman was returned to the cartel soldiers. But in doing so, the government conveyed a message that it was no longer in control, one expert said.
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The Mexican city of Culiacn descended into chaos on Thursday, after security forces briefly captured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's son Ovidio Guzman.

After apprehending him, the Mexican armed forces were quickly overwhelmed by a larger number of cartel gunman, who attacked with machine guns, snipers, and impeded the security forces by using burning vehicles to block roads.

To prevent any further casualties, they released Guzman .

The heavy gunfight took place in broad daylight. The skies over Culiacn filled with black smoke. It was described as a war zone .

Here's what it was like.

On Thursday, a Mexican security force of about 30 was patrolling Culiacn, a known stronghold for one of Guzman's cartel syndicates, 770 miles northwest of Mexico City, when they were shot at from a house.

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Rashide Frias / AFP / Getty

Sources: AP , Reuters , Fox News

Security fought back and entered the house. Inside, they apprehended Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's son, 28-year-old Ovidio Guzman, along with three others. Although he's not the most well-known son, the younger Guzman is wanted in the US on drug trafficking charges.

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Reuters

Sources: AP , Fox News

Things escalated from there. The house was surrounded by cartel soldiers, who out-numbered the Mexican security forces.

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Rashide Frias / AFP / Getty

Source: AP

Local media reported that the cartel were using what appeared to be sniper rifles and machine guns.

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Jesus Bustamante / Reuters

Source: AP

Heavy gunfire came from both sides, and went on for hours.

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Rashide Frias / AFP / Getty

Source: Fox News

The streets of the Mexican city quickly resembled a war zone. During the chaotic afternoon and evening, prisoners managed to escape from the local prison. Video showed at least 20 prisoners making a run for it, according to Reuters.

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STR / AFP / Getty

Sources: Fox News , Reuters

The cartel soldiers also set up blockades.

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Augusto Zurita / AP

And set cars and buses alight. It's a common tactic to make it harder for the security forces to maneuver during skirmishes.

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Jesus Bustamante / Reuters

Source: Fox News

Black smoke covered Culiacn's skies.

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Hector Parra / AP

Residents ran for cover, as shots were heard through the streets, and fighting continued on into the night. People on social media shared videos of parents stopping their cars on the street and telling their children to stay down close to the ground.

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Augusto Zurita / AP

Sources: Reuters , Fox News , Twitter

Reuters reported that so far, two people had been confirmed dead, and 21 injured, according to Cristobal Castaneda, head of security in Sinaloa.

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Rashide Frias / AFP / Getty

Source: Reuters

The Mexican security forces were forced to hand Guzman back to the cartel soldiers. Security Minister Alfonso Duranzo told Reuters that they had done so to save people's lives.

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Henry Romero / Reuters

Source: Reuters

Violence has plagued Sinaloa this year. Earlier this week, more than a dozen police were killed in a massacre in Western Mexico, and a day later the army retaliated killing 14 suspected criminals.

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Rashide Frias / AFP / Getty

Source: Reuters

And Falko Ernst, a senior analyst for International Crisis Group in Mexico, said releasing Guzman set a "dangerous precedent" and sent a message that the government wasn't in control.

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Hector Parra / AP

Source: Reuters

See Also:

SEE ALSO: What El Chapo is really like, according to the wife of one his closest henchman

DON'T MISS: Mexican security forces caught one of 'El Chapo' Guzman's sons but set him free after a massive attack by cartel gunmen