At least five people were killed in a shootout involving federal police and military officials this morning near Rocky Point's Sandy Beach area, the Sonora state attorney general confirmed.

The shootout was part of a federal police operation, but couldn't say whom it involved,  Carlos Alberto Navarro Sugich, the state attorney general, told reporters.

Two people died when the vehicle they were driving crashed into a pole and burst into flames, Navarro Sugich said. The other two were killed during the operation outside a hotel in the tourist area of the city. The State police has not released their names or details on how the fifth person died.

He couldn’t say how many law enforcement officers, including the Navy, participated in the operation, but an American resident who moved into the Bella Sirena complex six months ago said at one point there were between 100 and 200 officers in the area, not including those shooting from the two helicopters.

An American man who lives in the Esmeralda Resort complex on Sandy Beach told the Star today that he awoke to the sound of gunfire about 4:30 or 5 a.m.

"An absolutely unreal experience,” said Stephen Heisler. "Whoever they were going after must have had a tremendous amount of power . . . To actually see a helicopter gunship firing into a dense residential area will haunt many for a very long time."