In a drug raid aimed at destroying cocaine laboratories in Colombia, three soldiers and a police officer were killed and a television journalist went missing early Sunday.

The journalist, identified as Romeo Langlois, working for a French news organisation, was accompanying the troops during the raid.

"The French journalist was accompanying the army unit in the course of an anti-drug operation when the unit came under attack from FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) forces," AFP quoted a French embassy source as saying.

The ministry statement also said four soldiers were wounded in the 'heavy combat' with the leftist FARC during an operation by Counternarcotics Battalion No1, reported AFP.

Langlois was a Colombian resident and identified as the war correspondent according to the official statement, reported the Associated Press. He was reportedly working to make a documentary on the drug trade.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior official told AP that fighting had occurred on Saturday and heavy rainfall in the region was slowing down the military operations.

The troops were attacking the cocaine laboratories in the southern state of Caqueta. The drug trade allegedly provides the main income and is traded through Ecuador which is later sold to Mexicans.

The troops were confronted by a large group of armed fighters. The rebels attacked the army and were able to disappear into the forest before the army could retaliate, according to a BBC report.

Eight people including a child were killed during two separate attacks by FARC rebels in the same region on Friday.

The rebels have been fighting the Colombian government since 1964 and were recently reduced in their numbers due to the increase in US-backed military operations. Currently the group is believed to have around 8,000 fighters.

The rebel group also released the remaining hostages and vowed to halt the kidnappings a few weeks ago. However, the government alleges that 400 more civilians are being held as hostages by them. The rebel group said the government's numbers were baseless and biased.

Although the FARC leader Rodrigo Londono alias Timochenko has offered peace talks, the government is yet to agree.