Colombia’s ELN guerrilla group on Thursday freed the father of Liverpool footballer Luis Diaz, 12 days after kidnapping him, according to live TV footage.
After being handed over by the rebels to a humanitarian mission, Luis Manuel Diaz arrived by helicopter in the northeastern city of Valledupar, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) from his hometown of Barrancas where he was abducted with his wife on October 28. She was rescued the same day.
“Long live Freedom and Peace,” President Gustavo Petro wrote on X, formerly Twitter, after the release.
The Bishops Conference of Colombia, involved in negotiating the handover, released a photograph of Diaz in a wooded area with a woman taking his vital signs.
The 26-year-old winger’s father and mother Cilenis Marulanda were abducted by armed men on motorcycles at a gas station in their home town.
Marulanda was rescued hours later and a massive search operation by ground and air was launched for her husband, with more than 250 soldiers involved.
The ELN, which is in peace negotiations with Petro’s government, later acknowledged one of its units was behind the kidnapping, which it described as a “mistake.”
On Sunday, Diaz begged the ELN to free his father.
“I ask the ELN for the prompt release of my father, and I ask international organizations to intercede for his freedom,” Diaz said on X.
“Every second, every minute our anguish grows,” the young footballer added.
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