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French journalist missing in Colombia after rebel attack

Romeo Langlois, pictured in this file photo from June, 2011, has been working in Colombia for 10 years.

Story highlights

  • French journalist Romeo Langlois is missing
  • He works for France 24, which reports he is being held prisoner
  • Kidnapping government forces and civilians is a key strategy of the FARC

A French journalist reporting alongside soldiers is missing in Colombia after a leftist rebel group attacked their unit, killing four people and injuring six, officials said Sunday.

Romeo Langlois, who works for France 24, is a war reporter with more than 10 years experience in the country, said Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon.

According to preliminary reports, Langlois was shot in his arm before he disappeared, the minister said.

The attack by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as the FARC, took place in the southern Caqueta province as soldiers worked to destroy cocaine laboratories.

A sergeant, two soldiers and a national police officer were killed, the defense ministry said; six others were injured.

On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told French media that Langlois had been taken prisoner.

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France 24 reported its editors were working with authorities in both countries to gather information on the journalist.

"We know that it's a difficult region," said Nahida Nakad, editorial director of Audiovisuel Exterieur de la France, of which France 24 is a part, the television network reported. "Of course we are very worried, but we have every confidence in Romeo who knows the territory very well and is an experienced journalist. We hope that he is safe and sound, and we are in constant contact with his family."

A FARC-sympathetic news agency that often publishes official statements from the group blamed the incident on the Colombian government.

His disappearance "is the responsibility of the government of Colombia for engaging in their ranks a foreign national as a correspondent of war," said an editorial posted by the New Colombia News Agency.

The soldiers had destroyed five laboratories, with a total capacity to produce two tons of cocaine per week, the Colombian defense ministry said.

Pinzon on Friday condemned the rebel group for a separate incident, attacks in Caqueta that left three civilians dead, one of them a baby.

He reported a major blow against the rebels in the northern part of the country.

A special operation by the army and national police in Antioquia killed "Brenda," the second leader of the company in the area, he said. It also led to the capture of "Richard," or "The Mechanic," chief financial officer of the Alfonso Castellanos company of FARC in Arauca.

The rebel group has been at war with the Colombian government since the 1960s, and uses kidnapping forces and civilians as a key strategy.

While severely weakened in recent years, it continues to carry out kidnappings and attacks on security forces.

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