Kidnapped French reporter Romeo Langlois was released by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Wednesday during an exchange near the village of San Isidro. He was seized by the leftist rebel group on April 28.
Langlois, 35, was calm and appeared in good health following his month-long captivity. He told reporters he was treated well by his FARC captors.
I was treated just like any guerrilla combatant who was injured. I mean, it was harsh with few supplies, with what there was, but I was never tied up. ... They always treated me like a guest, he said, according to the BBC.
Langlois was on assignment for France24 Television when he was seized. He was filming Colombian troops on a mission to destroy cocaine labs in the Caqueta region, which is a FARC stronghold. When rebel fighters encountered the troops, gunfire broke out. Langlois suffered a single bullet wound in his left arm, but three soldiers and one police officer were killed in the clash.
After they captured the reporter, FARC rebels took care of his wound and at one point released a video of Langlois, who smiled at the camera and chatted as one of the rebels attended to a bandage on his arm.
On Wednesday, a delegation traveled to San Isidro to escort Langlois away from the rebel stronghold. Villagers organized a barbeque to mark the occasion. The delegates included former Colombian Sen. Piedad Cordoba, French diplomat Jean-Baptiste Chauvin and Red Cross country chief Jordi Raich, according to the AP.
It was a little rock and roll, Chauvin told reporters as he described the hours-long drive to San Isidro along bumpy dirt roads. It was a little difficult, but very beautiful.
Langlois is getting medical attention from the Red Cross and is expected to fly home to France within days.
FARC has been in existence since 1964. The group claims to represent Colombia's poorest citizens, according to its official manifesto: We cannot tolerate the narco-paramilitary mafia landowners and ranchers, drug dealers and businessmen who, with military support from the government of the United States and the hype of the media, turned Colombia into a hellish warzone with massacres, mass arrests of citizens, disappearances, poverty, plunder, and all the excesses of state terrorism.
FARC is considered a terrorist organization by the Colombian government. The rebel groups have been significantly weakened in recent years due to the aggressive policies of former President Alvaro Uribe, with financial and military support from the United States.
In February, FARC promised to stop its campaign of kidnapping and said it would consider holding peace talks with the government. President Juan Manuel Santos, who was elected in 2010, has so far not engaged in any discussions but has said he is open to speaking with FARC leaders pending their release of all hostages.
On Wednesday, Langlois urged foreign media to keep a collective eye on events unfolding in Colombia. This is a forgotten conflict, and we need to keep covering it from both sides, he said.