On April 30, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos held the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) responsible for the disappearance of French journalist Romeo Langlois on April 28 and demanded that the communist guerrilla group release him as soon as possible.
“We have very clear indications that the French journalist is being held by the FARC. We want to tell the FARC to release him as soon as possible, among other things because we understand that he’s wounded,” Santos indicated.
Up to now, the Colombian authorities had been cautious about the whereabouts of Langlois, a journalist for the France 24 television network who went missing on April 28, in the middle of combat between Military personnel and guerrillas in a conflict area in southern Colombia.
During the clash, the reporter was wounded in the left arm, according to accounts by Military personnel who were with him.
“This journalist was on a professional journalistic mission with our Armed Forces,” Santos stressed in his statements.
Santos recalled that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced in February that they would no longer kidnap civilians for purposes of extortion, and he called on them to act accordingly.
“A few weeks ago, you promised to Colombia and to the world that you were going to give up kidnapping. We received the news with satisfaction (…) Keep your word. The FARC is completely responsible for anything that happens to this journalist,” he emphasized.
Thirty-five-year-old Langlois has worked in Colombia for a decade. The journalist was reporting on anti-drug operations in the department of Caquetá (around 600 km south of Bogotá), when the Military patrol with which he was travelling was attacked by guerrillas.
The clash left four Military personnel dead and eight wounded. Another five soldiers who were initially reported missing were found hours later.
The Colombian Air Force is conducting flights over an extensive area of Caquetá in search of the journalist.
Nevertheless, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón explained that no Military rescue operation is currently being considered and that the French Government would always be informed in advance.
The minister confirmed that the helmet and bullet-proof vest that Langlois was wearing at the time of the attack belonged to the Armed Forces.
After being shot, the journalist decided to remove the helmet and vest and move toward the guerrillas, identifying himself as a civilian, according to accounts by Soldiers at the location.
FARC guerrillas who attacked the unit were also camouflaged in civilian clothing, according to a statement by the Colombian Armed Forces on April 30, warning that this practice violates international humanitarian law and that they would report it to international organizations.