Colombia: missing journalist wounded in arm
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A French journalist who went missing during combat between Colombian troops and leftist rebels suffered a bullet wound in the left arm during the firefight, Colombia's defense minister said Sunday.
A survivor of Saturday's attack by leftist rebels saw Romeo Langlois, 35, sustain the wound when troops he was accompanying on a mission to destroy cocaine labs was attacked by guerrillas protecting one of their targets, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon told reporters.
France's foreign minister, Alain Juppe, was quoted by his office as saying Langlois was kidnapped. But Pinzon indicated uncertainty and said he did not know Langlois' whereabouts.
Pinzon said it appeared that during a firefight that lasted much of Saturday morning Langlois decided to remove his helmet and bullet-proof vest. Pinzon said he identified himself as a civilian and headed toward guerrillas of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by their Spanish initials FARC.
"That's all the information we have about him. We don't know for sure at this moment what happened to him," Pinzon said during a briefing at the Larandia military base in the southern state of Caqueta where the combat occurred.
"Someone who was with him up until the last moment told me that at one point Romeo was hit by a bullet in his left arm," said Pinzon.
Three soldiers and a police officer were killed and six wounded in Saturday's firefight, the Defense Ministry said.
Pinzon said some of the rebels wore civilian clothing and fired from homes. He said that due to bad weather the unit that came under attack could not immediately be reinforced that some troops dispersed into the thick jungle.
"The journalist was taken prisoner" during the clash, Juppe's press office quoted him as saying. Juppe's spokesman, Romain Nadal, offered no details about who was holding Langlois or whether they were in contact with French or Colombian authorities.
Langlois is a freelancer with years of experience in the region who was on assignment for France 24 television, the all-news network said in a statement. Calls by The Associated Press to his cellphone went unanswered.
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