`French journo taken hostage after Columbia FARC gunbattle`
Lyon: A French journalist reported missing in Colombia after a gunbattle between government forces and leftist rebels has apparently been kidnapped, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Sunday.
"We know the circumstances: He was taken during a clash between Colombian troops and the FARC. The confrontation was brutal, there were deaths, and the journalist was taken prisoner," Juppe told reporters at a political rally.
Juppe said he had no further information for the moment, but said that the French foreign ministry hostage crisis cell had been activated.
Earlier, officials said that French television reporter Romeo Langlois went missing yesterday when he was with a military and police patrol in Caqueta province ambushed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Three soldiers and one police officer were killed in the attack and five others remain missing, Colombian military officials said.
"The French journalist was accompanying the army unit in the course of an anti-drug operation when the unit came under attack from FARC forces," said a French embassy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Colombian authorities have launched a search operation.
Global television network France 24 said that Langlois had been on assignment for them, reporting alongside Colombian forces carrying out anti-narcotic operations in the south of the country.
"We know that it`s a dangerous region. Of course we are worried, but we have confidence in Romeo who knows the region well and is very experienced. We hope therefore that he is safe and well," said editorial director Nahida Nakad.
The FARC has been at war with the Colombian government since 1964 and is believed to have some 9,000 fighters in mountainous and jungle areas, according to government estimates.