In a dramatic turn of events, Luis Manuel Díaz, the father of Liverpool footballer Luis Díaz has been released by a left-wing Colombian guerrilla group after being held for 13 days in captivity.
The National Liberation Army (ELN) handed him over to United Nations and Catholic church officials. The abduction took place on October 28 in the family’s hometown, Barrancas.
Luis Díaz’s mother, Cilenis Marulanda, was also seized during the attack but was fortunately freed within hours.
According to local reports, Mr Díaz is currently en route to Valledupar, where he will undergo a medical examination before reuniting with his family. Authorities have stated that he is in good health and shows no signs of mistreatment.
Emotional scenes unfolded in the neighbourhood where the Díaz family resides, with relatives donning Liverpool team shirts bearing the number 23 and Luis Díaz’s name.
Luis Alfonso Díaz, a cousin of the footballer’s father, expressed his relief, saying, “We feel a great satisfaction, we are glad that it’s come to an end.”
On the day of the kidnapping, the couple was confronted by gunmen at a petrol station in Barrancas. While Luis Díaz’s mother was left in a car as police closed in, his father was taken away by the kidnappers.
Initially, police suspected a criminal gang’s involvement, but a government delegation engaged in peace talks with the ELN later confirmed their responsibility.
The ELN, Colombia’s primary active guerrilla group, has been in conflict with the state since 1964 and is estimated to have around 2,500 members.
Their presence is most prominent in the border region with Venezuela, where Luis Manuel Díaz and his wife reside.
The kidnapping sparked outrage in Colombia, where Luis Díaz enjoys immense popularity, particularly as a member of Colombia’s national team.
His Liverpool teammates showed unwavering support, with Díaz scoring a goal against Luton Town and lifting his shirt to reveal the message “freedom for papa.”
“Every second, every minute our anxiety grows,” expressed Díaz in a statement released after the match in the English Premier League.
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