French journalist missing after Colombia FARC gun battle

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 29, 2012 9:03 AM
French journalist missing after Colombia FARC gun battle

BOGOTA (Reuters) - A French journalist reporting alongside Colombian security forces tracking drug-funded rebels disappeared on Saturday after a gun battle with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the Defense Ministry said.

Romeo Langlois, who local media said is a reporter for French news channel France 24, was caught in a firefight with the rebels, known as FARC, as police and military sought to dismantle drug laboratories in the jungles of Caqueta, southern Colombia.

Three soldiers and one police official died in the attack and six are missing, including Langlois, the Defense ministry said in a statement. Another four soldiers were injured.

The FARC, involved in the production of much of the world's cocaine, operates in southern Colombia, where the soil and humidity are perfect for cultivation of coca, the raw material for cocaine.

The FARC, which has kidnapped thousands of civilians over the decades to help pay for weapons, food and uniforms, is classified as a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.

A U.S.-backed military offensive against the guerrilla group during the past decade has halved their numbers to about 8,000, according to the Defense Ministry.

(Reporting by Helen Murphy; Editing by Bill Trott)