(Adds comments from Colombia defense minister, background)
* No rescue attempt planned
* Langlois ran toward FARC
By John Irish and Helen Murphy
PARIS, April 30 France on Monday said it held
FARC rebels responsible for the life of a French journalist in
Colombia, calling on the drug-funded group to release him
immediately in line with a pledge it made to stop taking
hostages for ransom.
France believes Romeo Langlois, a freelance reporter for
French news channel France 24, was taken captive by the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia after being caught in
crossfire between the Marxist guerrillas and government troops.
"We have indicated to the FARC that they are responsible for
his life," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told reporters on
Monday. Colombia has not yet confirmed his kidnapping.
Langlois was reporting a news story alongside an
anti-narcotics patrol in the southern jungles of Caqueta on
Saturday when they were attacked by dozens of FARC protecting
hidden cocaine laboratories.
His disappearance will refocus attention on the FARC after
its release this month of 10 members of the armed forces who had
been held hostage in camps for more than a decade.
While the FARC has kidnapped thousands of Colombians over
the past five decades, the group in February said it would no
longer take hostages for ransom to pay for weapons, uniforms or
It never said, however, that it would stop kidnapping for
so-called political means to pressure the government. The FARC
is classified as a terrorist group by the United States and
As the fighting broke out, Langlois removed his bulletproof
vest and helmet and ran toward the rebels, who were dressed in
civilian clothes, possibly in a bid to prove he was not a member
of the armed forces, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos
Pinzon told reporters.
There would be no attempts to rescue Langlois, if the FARC
holds him, without first consulting the French government,
"There are military operations in the area, but we aren't
planning any rescue because we don't know where the journalist
is," Pinzon said.
"At the moment we know what happened; we will talk to the
Juppe said this was an opportunity for the rebel group to
prove its pledge to cease kidnapping for ransom. He called on
them to immediately release Langlois.
The last French citizen held by the FARC was dual-national
Ingrid Betancourt, kidnapped in 2002. Colombian soldiers rescued
her in 2008.
France 24 said the head of its international arm and one of
its journalists specialized in Colombia would travel to Bogota
on Monday to liaise with local authorities.
The insurgent group has made peace gestures in recent months
as a U.S.-backed offensive batters its front lines, halving its
fighting force and killing top commanders.
The International Committee of the Red Cross told Reuters it
is worried about Langlois and willing to help in any process to
free him. The group has not been contacted by the FARC,
according to a Red Cross official who asked not to be named.
President Juan Manuel Santos has said he remains open to
peace talks only if the group ceases all attacks against
civilian and military targets and stops kidnapping.
(Additional reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by Eric