Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia hunts for French reporter missing in Farc raid

Photo of Romeo Langlois provided by France 24 television
Image caption Romeo Langlois was travelling to make a documentary when rebels attacked

A French journalist missing after a raid by Farc rebels on Colombian soldiers was "taken prisoner", French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has said.

Survivors of the raid who were with Romeo Langlois at the time said he was wounded in the arm, according to Colombian officials.

A police officer and three soldiers were killed in the raid, and at least another four injured.

The troops were trying to destroy cocaine laboratories at the time.

They were attacked as they were dropped from helicopters.

The laboratories provide the rebels with their main income. The drugs are mostly moved south through Ecuador and sold to Mexican cartels.

Mr Langlois was "taken during a clash between Colombian troops and the Farc... the journalist was taken prisoner," Mr Juppe said.

"What I am told by the soldiers who were with him is that Romeo was hit with a bullet in the left arm," Colombian Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon told reporters, according to AFP news agency.

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Media captionItalian journalist Simone Bruno, who was travelling with Romeo Langlois, says they were both aware of the dangers

Local reports say Mr Langlois, who works for French TV channel France 24, was travelling with the army to make a documentary about the fight against drugs and illegal mining.

The soldiers from the anti-narcotics brigade were confronted by a large, and heavily armed, guerrilla unit, which managed to disappear back into the jungle before the military was able to react.

Earlier reports had said other soldiers had gone missing, but Colombian officials say they have since reappeared.

Earlier this month, a senior rebel leader contradicted government suggestions the guerrilla group had been severely weakened, and said it remained ready for battle.

On Friday eight people including a baby were killed in two Farc attacks in the same region.

The BBC's Jeremy McDermott in Medellin says the rebels are trying to step up their actions and force the government to the negotiating table.

Prelude to talks?

Since 2002, the Farc has seen its numbers halved in the face of concerted attacks from the US-backed military. But in the last three years they have stepped up their attacks and re-taken the initiative in certain parts of the country, helped with income from the drugs trade and extortion.

The province of Caqueta is home to the Farc's Southern Bloc, one of seven fighting divisions spread across the country.

The area is also important for the cocaine trade, with guerrillas growing coca and processing cocaine.

In February, the Farc announced it was ending its policy of kidnappings, and earlier this month released 10 hostages who had been held for more than a decade.

Farc commander-in-chief Rodrigo Londono better known by his alias of Timochenko, has offered to hold peace talks with the government. So far President Juan Manuel Santos has refused.

Our correspondent says the rebels may well be trying to send a message, warning him of what may happen if he refuses to negotiate.

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