Soccer Star's Kidnapped Father Is Released

Members of Colombian guerrilla group had abducted father of Liverpool striker Luis Diaz
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 9, 2023 12:43 PM CST
Soccer Star's Kidnapped Father Is Released
Liverpool's Luis Diaz gestures as he celebrates at the end of the English Premier League soccer match in Luton, England, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023.   (Alastair Grant)

The father of a prominent pro soccer player has been released by kidnappers 12 days after his abduction in Colombia by members of the guerrilla group National Liberation Army. The Colombian government announced the news about the father of Liverpool striker Luis Diaz on Thursday, per the AP. The kidnapping of Luis Manuel Díaz on Oct. 28 in the small town of Barrancas quickly drew international attention. On Sunday, the younger Diaz appealed for his father 's release after scoring for Liverpool in a Premier League soccer match, revealing a T-shirt saying "Freedom for Papa" in Spanish.

It was initially unclear who carried out the abduction, but Colombia's government announced last week it had information that Díaz was kidnapped by a unit of the National Liberation Army, or ELN. The ELN later acknowledged the kidnapping, saying it was a mistake and that the group's top leadership had ordered the elder Díaz's release. Both parents of Liverpool's Díaz had been kidnapped by armed men on motorcycles at a gas station in Barrancas. But the player's mother, Cilenis Marulanda, was rescued within hours by police who set up roadblocks around the town of 40,000 people, which is near Colombia's border with Venezuela.

After the kidnapping, special forces were deployed in the area to search for Diaz's father in a mountain range that straddles both countries and is covered by cloud forest. Police also offered a $48,000 reward for information leading to him. The 26-year-old striker is one of the most talented players on Colombia's national team. He joined Liverpool in a deal worth $67 million. (More kidnapping stories.)

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