Thursday, February 25, 2021

Colombia unsure FARC took French reporter


Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, pictured at Narino presidential palace in Bogota

(AFP) – BOGOTA — Colombian authorities are unsure that leftist FARC guerrillas took a French reporter hostage, President Juan Manuel Santos said, nearly a week since Romeo Langlois went missing.

“I’m not sure whether they have him or not… There are signs, but I cannot be sure that the FARC have him,” Santos told reporters in the northern town of Maria La Baja, on Friday.

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“If the FARC are intelligent and have half a brain, they would release him immediately, because it is getting more expensive for them to keep him.”

Langlois went missing after a firefight on Saturday between security forces and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in the south of the country.

A 35-year-old reporter for global television network France 24 who had been accompanying soldiers who destroyed five cocaine production labs in the area, he is believed to have suffered a bullet wound to his left arm.

The military has halted operations in the area where Langlois was kidnapped.

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“What happened to him? I do not know,” Santos said. “If I were the FARC, I would release him quickly, because this reporter was not a fighter in any way. He cannot be considered a prisoner of war under any circumstances.”

A group calling itself the FARC’s Front 15 wing, a regional unit made up of about 300 rebel fighters, has claimed responsibility for the abduction in a written message, calling Langlois a “prisoner of war.”

But the FARC’s central command has yet to make a statement about the journalist.

Military officials have said that after being wounded, Langlois shed his bullet-proof vest and military helmet and surrendered to the rebels, identifying himself as a civilian journalist.

The last French national held by the FARC was Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian senator and presidential candidate. She was abducted during her presidential campaign in February 2002, along with her assistant, Clara Rojas.

Betancourt and 14 other hostages — including three US military contractors — were freed in an operation by the Colombian military on July 2, 2008.

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FACT CHECK:
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Rico
"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of onlinemagazines that includes TodayColombia.com. Rico brings his special kind of savvy to online marketing. His websites are engaging, provocative, informative and sometimes off the wall, where you either like or you leave it. The same goes for him, like him or leave him.There is no middle ground. No compromises, only a passion to present reality as he sees it!

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