France 24 journalist captured by FARC

Colombia asks rebels not to harm French reporter

GMT 09:13 2012 Monday ,30 April

Arab Today, arab today Colombia asks rebels not to harm French reporter

Romeo Langlois, a 35-year-old reporter
Bogota - Agencies

Romeo Langlois, a 35-year-old reporter Colombia on Sunday launched an appeal to FARC rebels not to harm a wounded French journalist who Paris said had been kidnapped by the leftist rebels during a gun battle with government troops.
Romeo Langlois, a 35-year-old reporter who works for global television network France 24, had been accompanying government troops when a firefight with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) erupted on Saturday.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Langlois, who suffered a bullet wound to the arm, had been kidnapped, explaining: "The confrontation was brutal, there were deaths, and the journalist was taken prisoner."
"We ask the terrorist organization FARC, if they are holding him, to respect his life, and tell them the rebels will be held responsible for everything that happens to him," Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said.
"What I am told by the soldiers who were with him is that Romeo was hit with a bullet in the left arm," Pinzon told reporters.
"In the midst of all this tension, he surely decided to take off his vest, his helmet and identify himself as a civilian," he added, though cautioning: "We don't know right now with certitude what happened to him."
Four security forces were killed and eight wounded in Saturday's clash in the southern department of Caqueta, according to Colombia's military.
Five soldiers who went missing along with Langlois during the skirmish were accounted for on Sunday: three were unharmed and the two others suffered unspecified injuries.
Colombia has launched a search operation to locate Langlois.
In France, Juppe -- who was speaking in Lyon -- said he had no further information for the moment, but that the French foreign ministry's hostage crisis cell had been activated.
France 24 said that Langlois had been on assignment, reporting alongside Colombian forces carrying out anti-narcotic operations in the south of the country.
"We know that it's a dangerous region. Of course we are worried, but we have confidence in Romeo who knows the region well and is very experienced. We hope therefore that he is safe and well," said editorial director Nahida Nakad.
Langlois, who had lived in Colombia for about a decade, has reported extensively about the FARC rebels, the network said.
The clash on Saturday took place in a remote area near the town of Montanita, after soldiers had destroyed five cocaine production labs, Pinzon said.
The FARC has been at war with the Colombian government since 1964 and is believed to have some 9,000 fighters in mountainous and jungle areas, according to government estimates.
Their deadliest attack this year was committed last month when the rebels killed 11 soldiers in the town of Arauquita, near the border with Venezuela.
Earlier this month, the FARC released the last 10 police officers and soldiers they were holding hostage.
But Olga Gomez, president of the Free Country Foundation, estimates the FARC is holding more than 400 civilians hostage. The FARC says the foundation's numbers are false and biased, but has released no figures of its own.
The last French national held by the FARC was Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian senator and presidential candidate. She was abducted during her presidential campaign in February 2002, along with her assistant, Clara Rojas.
Betancourt and 14 other hostages -- including three US military contractors -- were freed in an operation by the Colombian military on July 2, 2008.

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