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colombia rebels release proof of life for kidnapped frenchman

Monday May 28, 2012    3:21 PM

BOGOTA - Colombian FARC rebels on Monday released a proof of life video in which a kidnapped French journalist appeared relaxed while chatting with the guerrilla fighters that took him hostage a month ago.

French reporter Romeo Langlois was seized on April 28 by heavily armed members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia during a clash with troops carrying out an anti-drug raid in Caqueta, a rebel-stronghold in Colombia's south. The FARC have vowed to free Langlois on Wednesday.

"Go ahead, ask me more questions if you like. ... It's weird, I usually ask the questions because I'm the journalist, but it's ok," Langlois tells a female FARC member in the video aired by Venezuelan based television network Telesur.

Sitting barechested on a bench, the video shows Langlois chatting amicably with his kidnappers.

"The government has never been fond of me, because I've always gone to both sides, to gather the opinion of everyone," Langlois said.

After taking Langlois hostage, the group criticized the government for manipulating journalists to turn public opinion against them.

The video also shows Langlois receiving medical treatment for a wound in his left arm that he sustained when he was taken hostage.

Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said the government is working closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the French government to facilitate Langlois' release.

The FARC started as a Marxist peasant movement almost 50 years ago, but lately has turned to kidnapping and drug-trafficking to finance their struggle against the government.

A U.S. funded crackdown has weakened the rebels in recent years and they have given signs that they may be willing to engage in peace talks with the government. However, they have also stepped up attacks in recent months.

They are suspected for a bomb attack earlier this month against former interior and justice minister Fernando Londono. Londono survived the blast, but his driver and a bodyguard were killed.

FARC guerrillas also ambushed an army unit near the border with Venezuela last week and killed 12 soldiers.

(Reporting by Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Jackie Frank)