New York, April 30, 2012–A French journalist who was injured during combat between Colombian Army troops and guerrillas has gone missing and may have been kidnapped by the rebels, according to Colombian and French officials.
Roméo Langlois, a Colombia-based correspondent for the international TV network France 24 and a contributor to the Paris daily Le Figaro, disappeared on Saturday after being injured in the left arm during a firefight between Colombian troops and rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, news reports said. Langlois had joined the troops to cover an anti-drug raid near the town of La Montañita in southern Caquetá department, the reports said.
The French foreign minister, Alain Juppe, told reporters in the city of Bordeaux today that they were in contact with Colombian authorities to work for his release and that it was likely that Langlois had been kidnapped by the FARC.
Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón said in a news conference that Langlois was with an army unit that was attacked by about 100 FARC guerrillas dressed in civilian clothes. Pinzón said if the guerrillas were holding the journalist, “they must respect his life and take responsibility for anything that might happen.”
“We call on Colombian authorities to use every means possible to find journalist Roméo Langlois,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “All sides fighting in Colombia must do their utmost to ensure the safety of all media personnel and respect their internationally acknowledged status as civilians.”
The FARC, which has been fighting since 1964, has long funded its war with the proceeds from the illegal drug trade, extortion, and ransom from kidnapping civilians, including journalists. However, in a gesture that may have been designed to promote a new round of peace talks with the government, the FARC announced in February that it would no longer abduct civilians.
Colombian journalists have been long been victims of aggression in the country’s armed conflict, although violence has declined in recent years. In the past four months, three journalists have fled their homes after being threatened by alleged members of FARC and criminal groups.