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September 24, 2017

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Colombia claims 'clear signs' show Frenchman remains in FARC hands

BOGOTA -- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Monday there were "very clear signs" that a French journalist had indeed been kidnapped by leftist FARC rebels after a weekend gun battle in the jungle.

Romeo Langlois, a 35-year-old reporter for global television network France 24, was reported missing after Saturday's firefight between security forces and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the south of the country.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe earlier said that Langlois — who reportedly suffered a bullet wound to the arm in the crossfire — had probably been taken hostage.

Santos, speaking to reporters at the presidential palace in Bogota, said there were "very clear signs that the French journalist is in FARC captivity."

"I would like to ask the FARC to liberate him as soon as possible, especially as we have learned he was injured," Santos said.

"A few weeks ago, (the FARC) promised Colombians and the world that they would stop kidnappings ... stay true to your word. The FARC alone will be held accountable for anything that happens to this journalist."

Four Colombian soldiers were killed and eight others wounded in Saturday's battle in the southern jungle department of Caqueta, some 600 kilometers (370 miles) south of Bogota.

"We continue our search efforts where the terrorist group operates ... we're running flights day and night," Colombian Air Force commander Tito Saul Pinilla earlier told reporters.

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