Colombia's president accuses FARC of kidnapping

AP News
Posted: Apr 30, 2012 9:20 PM
Colombia's president accuses FARC of kidnapping

President Juan Manuel Santos accused Colombia's main rebel group on Monday of kidnapping a French journalist who disappeared during a weekend firefight, and he demanded the reporter be released immediately.

Earlier, Colombia's defense minister said no rescue mission had been launched, and France said it considered the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia responsible for the disappearance of freelance reporter Romeo Langlois.

"We have very clear indications that the French journalist is being held by the FARC," Santos said during an event at the presidential palace, using the Spanish initials of the rebel movement.

He did not explain those indications.

"We want to tell the FARC that they should free this journalist as soon as possible, among other reasons because we understand he is wounded," Santos said.

Langlois, 35, was accompanying soldiers and police who were destroying cocaine laboratories when they were attacked by FARC rebels Saturday.

Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon has said troops saw Langlois hit by a gunshot in his left arm, and said he shed his helmet and flak jacket and headed in the direction of the rebels.

Four security force members were killed in the attack and six wounded.

Earlier Monday, Pinzon said the Colombian government had not mounted any special rescue mission for Langlois, and could not say whether he had been abducted.

France's foreign ministry said it considered Langlois, who was on assignment for France24 television, to be a prisoner of the FARC.

It called on the rebels to honor their late February pledge to end ransom kidnapping as a means of funding their nearly half-century-old struggle. Santos, also, appealed to the FARC to "honor its word" to halt kidnappings.

Early last month, the FARC released 10 soldiers and police officers who it said were its last remaining "political prisoners."

Langlois has more than a decade of experience reporting from Colombia.

The last time foreign journalists were held by the FARC was in 2003, when a writer and photographer working for the Los Angeles Times were held for 12 days before being released unharmed.