Colombia asks rebels not to harm kidnapped French reporter

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Authorities launched an appeal April 29 to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) not to harm a wounded French journalist who was kidnapped by the leftist rebels during a gun battle with government troops.

Roméo Langlois, 35, a reporter who works for global television network France 24, had been accompanying government troops when a firefight with FARC guerrillas erupted on April 28.

“We ask the terrorist organization FARC, if they are holding him, to respect his life, and we tell them the rebels will be held responsible for everything that happens to him,” Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón said.

“What I am told by the soldiers who were with him is that Roméo was hit by a bullet in the left arm,” Pinzón told reporters.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé confirmed in Paris that Langlois had been kidnapped. “The confrontation was brutal, there were deaths, and the journalist was taken prisoner,” Juppé said.

“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 the April 28 clash in the southern department of Caquetá, according to Colombia’s military.

Five soldiers who went missing along with Langlois during the skirmish were accounted for April 29: Three were unharmed and the two others suffered unspecified injuries. Colombia has launched a search operation to locate Langlois.

The clash took place in a remote area near the town of Montañita, after soldiers had destroyed five cocaine production labs, Pinzón said.

Langlois, who had lived in Colombia for about a decade, has reported extensively about the FARC rebels, the network said.

[AFP, 29/04/2012; Elespectador.com (Colombia), 30/04/2012]

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