National / World

Colombian Rebels Say they're Holding French Reporter

Bogota, May 2 (IANS/EFE): Colombia's FARC guerrillas admitted Tuesday that they are holding French journalist Romeo Langlois, who disappeared three days ago in the middle of a firefight between security forces and the guerrillas in the southern province of Caqueta.

The acknowledgment came in a telephone call to a Colombian journalist from a woman identifying herself as a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

"We have the French reporter in our power," the woman told a correspondent of Caracol Radio in La Union Peneya, the village where Langlois was last seen.

"We have declared him a prisoner of war," she added, explaining that the FARC decided to hold Langlois because he was wearing a helmet and other military-issue clothing.

The purported guerrilla confirmed that the French reporter had been wounded in the left shoulder and had received medical attention from the insurgents.

The Caracol reporter said that the woman asserted she belonged to the 15th Front of the FARC, the guerrilla unit that last Saturday clashed with a contingent of Colombian troops and police in La Union Peneya.

Three soldiers and a police officer died in the fighting, which broke out as the troops were conducting an anti-drug operation accompanied by Langlois, a correspondent in Colombia for France 24 television and Paris daily Le Figaro.

On Monday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that the government had "clear indications" that Langlois was in the hands of the FARC and demanded that the rebels free the reporter.

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