Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto instructed his top security official to design a plan for combating kidnapping, noting a greater incidence of that crime in recent months.

During a review of his security strategy since taking office on Dec. 1, 2012, Peña Nieto acknowledged - without providing specific figures - that there has been "an upward trend" in that crime.

Speaking at a session of the National Public Safety Council, the president lamented the increase in abductions and instructed Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong to come up with a "specific strategy" for reducing the rate of that crime.

Progress was made, however, in lowering the number of intentional homicides, which "fell by 15 percent compared the same period of last year," Peña Nieto said, adding that robberies of all types were down by more than 5 percent.

He added that of the 122 criminals declared "important targets" at the start of his administration, "the government has ensured that 71 are no longer a threat" to society, which has had a "significant impact" of the structures of organized-crime gangs.

Mexico is plagued by well-armed drug cartels engaged in a vicious battle to control smuggling routes and territories.

Besides pursuing their underworld vendettas, gunmen employed by the cartels engage in kidnapping, extortion and robbery.

Peña Nieto also touted advances on the human-rights front, saying that since he took office there has been a 50 percent reduction in the number of complaints submitted to the National Human Rights Commission, Mexico's equivalent of an ombud's office, for alleged violations of basic rights.

In the international sphere, he mentioned improved intelligence-sharing between Mexico and other countries, particularly its neighbors. EFE