Mexican President Felipe Calderon says he will continue to use the military to fight drug cartels, despite criticism from Mexico's congress and a rights group.

In a speech Thursday in Mexico's northern state of Durango, Mr. Calderon said the government would not relent in defending Mexico against drug traffickers.

On Wednesday, Mexican lawmakers urged Mr. Calderon to strengthen Mexico's police force and not rely on the military to fight powerful drug cartels. Their request came after Amnesty International's Mexican office said that soldiers are not trained to perform civilian tasks, and are therefore more prone to abusing human rights.

Since taking office in December, President Calderon has dispatched tens of thousands of troops to fight drug-related violence, which killed more than 2,000 Mexicans last year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.