Reports: Colombian FARC rebels holding journalist as prisoner of war
BOGOTA: Colombia's largest rebel group FARC, is holding French journalist Romeo Langlois who has been missing since Saturday, an alleged rebel says.
According to news reports, a woman claiming to be a member of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said the rebels were holding Langlois as a prisoner of war.
A group of journalists covering the disappearance of Langlois said they received a telephone call from a woman who said she belonged to the 15th division of the FARC.
The woman read out a statement she said had been issued by the group's commanders that ran: "The 15th division informs the public that the French journalist, who was dressed in military clothes and captured in battle, is in our hands as a prisoner of war."
On Monday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said there were "clear indications" that Langlois was in the custody of the leftist rebel group. Without elaborating further, the Colombian president urged the rebels to "keep their word" that they had ended their practice of kidnapping.
"We want to tell the FARC that they should free this journalist as soon as possible, among other reasons because we understand that he is wounded," Santos said.
Langlois, an employee of TV channel France 24, went missing over the weekend as he was accompanying Colombian troops in the country's southern Caqueta department to make a documentary about the fight against drugs and illegal mining.
Colombian troops said later that Langlois had appeared to be injured in a gunfight that broke out with the rebels during a raid to destroy cocaine laboratories.
Both Colombian and French authorities now believe that the injured journalist was taken hostage by the FARC rebels during the raid, which resulted in the death of a police officer as well as three soldiers.
In the wake of increased FARC attacks in recent weeks, Santos ordered a review of the military strategy to make the country's fight against the rebels more effective. He also appointed new military commanders and a new Defence Minister to tackle the FARC problem.
In an effort to show its commitment to future peace talks with the government, the group recently released the last remaining ten security personnel held hostage and pledged to abandon kidnappings for money.