Concern for French couple missing in Bolivia

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The French embassy Wednesday voiced concern for a couple who disappeared three weeks ago during a festival in a Bolivian border village leaving behind a three-year-old boy.

Jeremie Bellanger, 25, and his girlfriend Fannie Blancho, 23, have not been seen since they went to Guayaramerin, close to the Brazilian border, near a lawless area known for drug-trafficking and high crime rates.

"We are doing all we can can and stepping up our efforts," said France's ambassador Antoine Grassin, who said the disappearances were worrying.

The couple, originally from western France, had traveled to the festival, some 800 kilometers (500 miles) northeast of the Bolivian capital La Paz, with their landlord and Blancho's three-year-old son.

The landlord later returned with the child, leaving the couple behind. But the pair have not been seen since, and relatives are worried they may have been kidnapped.

The boy is being cared for at the French embassy and will be returned to his relatives in the coming days, the ambassador said.

Police are continuing their inquiries and the embassy will on Thursday launch a series of adverts in the Bolivian press appealing for information as to the couple's whereabouts.

© 2010 AFP

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