Page last updated at 09:35 GMT, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 10:35 UK

Mexico launches anti-kidnap squad

Mexican federal police take part in a simulated hostage rescue mission - file photo
Federal police will intensify efforts against kidnappers, officials say

Mexican authorities have launched an anti-kidnapping squad amid public anger over the abduction and killing of a prominent businessman's son.

The squad will consist of some 300 officers in five centres.

Correspondents say public anger broke out after the abduction and killing of 14-year-old Fernando Marti amid suspicion police were involved.

The federal government also wants an anti-abduction pact with the 32 state governments and business leaders.

Life in prison

The anti-kidnapping centres will be open 24 hours a day.

Luis Cardenas, of the federal police, told journalists: "Federal police are scaling up their capacities in the fight against kidnappings with an unprecedented effort."

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy in Mexico City says the government is trying to respond to a widespread sense of public unease that the kidnappers and some elements of the country's police forces are out of control.

On the pact with state governments, businessmen and academics, Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mourino said: "We're proposing a pact, a national agreement that sets certain rules and commitments from each of the people involved."

Mr Mourino denied suggestions the government's crackdown on drugs activities had caused kidnappings to soar.

"On the contrary, the fight against organised crime... has been reducing the financial and operative capacity," he said.

Last week President Felipe Calderon urged Congress to pass a bill that would give kidnappers life in prison without parole.

More than 430 abductions were reported in 2007, up 35% on the previous year.

Mexicans were outraged at the case of Fernando Marti, who was abducted in June.

His decomposed body was found in the boot of a car in Mexico City even though his family had reportedly paid a ransom.

Anger at the murder of the teenager, who came from one of the country's wealthiest families, increased after a number of police officers were arrested in connection with the case.

A number of marches are planned for 30 August in protest at the apparent lack of progress in tackling the kidnappers.

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