Officials in the Mexican Gulf state of Veracruz should take action to find missing reporter Gregorio Jimenez de la Cruz and provide members of the media with "the security guarantees necessary to practice their profession," the Latin American Press Association, or Colaper, said.

Colaper, whose members work in 23 countries, said in a statement released in Mexico that the administration of Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte had a responsibility to protect journalists so they could do their jobs.

Jimenez de la Cruz, a police reporter for the Notisur and Liberal del Sur newspapers, was abducted outside his residence in Villa Allende last week.

It is regrettable "that Mexico is the country with the largest number of journalists murdered due to situations related to their work," Colaper said.

Nine journalists have been murdered in Veracruz in the past decade, Colaper's representatives in Mexico and Veracruz said.

"The situation in Mexico, and especially in Veracruz, is an example of what should never happen in a country where freedom of expression and security are guaranteed by the law, but its institutions and governments are, at the same time, overwhelmed by crime," the press association said.

The Notisur newspaper on Thursday called on Jimenez de la Cruz's kidnappers to return him "home safe and sound."

Gunmen grabbed Jimenez de la Cruz on Wednesday morning outside his house in Villa Allende, which is near the city of Coatzacoalcos.

Jimenez de la Cruz was kidnapped as he returned home after taking his children to school, Notisur representative Sayda Chiñas Cordova told Efe.

He had reported recently on a wave of kidnappings in Allende, which is separated from Coatzacoalcos by a river, the newspaper executive said.

The Zetas drug cartel, considered Mexico's most violent criminal organization, and other gangs operate in Veracruz's oil-producing region.

A total of 87 journalists have been murdered since 2000 in Mexico, making it the most dangerous country in Latin America for members of the media, the National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, said. EFE