BOGOTA, Colombia -- In a video posted on YouTube, a self-described commander with the Colombian rebel group FARC said the insurgents are holding French journalist Romeo Langlois, whom they captured April 28 during a bloody firefight between the rebels and government forces.
The leader, who identified himself as a member of the 15th Front of the FARC, also said the rebels hope to "overcome the impasse" surrounding negotiations for Langlois' release, a hint that the Frenchman might soon be liberated.
The video posted Sunday is the first apparent confirmation that the journalist working for Le Figaro newspaper and France 24 cable channel was in rebel hands. The rebel spokesman also said Langlois had been shot in the arm but was in no danger. Military officers quoted by local media Sunday said the rebel leader speaking in the video is a known insurgent.
Langlois was traveling with an army unit tasked with destroying illicit cocaine laboratories in southeastern Caqueta province when they were ambushed by members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. In the video, the commander described Langlois as a “prisoner of war.”
Military spokesman said after the battle that Langlois had taken off his helmet and protective vest and given himself up to the guerrillas as the battle raged. Army Sgt. Jose Cortes, who was assigned to protect Langlois during the operation, was among those killed in the firefight, Semana magazine reported Sunday.
Four soldiers were killed and four wounded in the attack. The rebel leader in the video said Sunday that three rebels were killed in the seven-hour firefight. The rebels reportedly said on Twitter that Langlois was wearing military battle fatigues, which army Gen. Alejandro Navas denied.
Over the last week, various French officials and human rights figures have called on the FARC to release Langlois.
The FARC in April released its last 10 military hostages, some of whom had been held for as long as 14 years. The group announced previously that it was giving up political kidnappings, although it has not specifically promised it would not take civilians hostage.
-- Chris Kraul and Jenny Carolina Gonzalez
Photo: Video released on Sunday shows a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia commander who identified himself as Ancesar reading a statement confirming that the rebels are holding French journalist Romeo Langlois as a "prisoner of war." Credit: Carlos Villalon and Karl Penhaul / AFP/Getty Images