A handout photo made available by the UN showing Luis Manuel Díaz (C), father of Liverpool footballer Luis Díaz, being released after twelve days kidnapped by the guerrilla of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Valledupar, Colombia 09 November 2023. EFE/UN/EDITORIAL USE ONLY/ONLY AVAILABLE TO ILLUSTRATE THE ACCOMPANYING NEWS (MANDATORY CREDIT)

Colombian guerrillas release father of Liverpool star Luis Díaz after 12 days in captivity

Barrancas, Colombia, Nov 9 (EFE).- Luis Manuel Díaz, father of Liverpool and Colombian national team footballer Luis Díaz, was released Thursday after 12 days of being held captive by guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN), according to official sources.

Díaz was freed in the foothills of the Perijá mountain range, which runs along the northern part of the border with Venezuela, not far from the town of Barrancas, where he was kidnapped on Oct

Jacob Díaz (L), grandfather of Liverpool soccer player Luis Díaz, watches on television as his son Luis Manuel Díaz is released after 12 days kidnapped by National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas in Barrancas, Colombia, 09 November 2023. EFE/Ricardo Maldonado Rozo

The ELN handed him over to a humanitarian commission formed by the United Nations Mission in Colombia and the Catholic Church, and he was then flown by helicopter to Valledupar, the region’s largest city.

“Long live freedom and peace,” said Colombian President Gustavo Petro as he announced the release of Mr. Luis Manuel Díaz in his social media accounts.

“The time has come to make decisions that will eliminate kidnapping,” the government’s delegation to the peace talks with the ELN demanded, as it welcomed the release of the soccer player’s father.

Luis Díaz of Liverpool reacts during a match in Toulouse, France, 09 November 2023. (Francia) EFE/EPA/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO

On Monday, some 300 Colombian police and military personnel searching for Luis Díaz’s father began withdrawing from their area of operations to facilitate his release.

The decision to withdraw the troops came hours after the ELN said that Díaz’s release had been delayed by the military presence in the area.

After undergoing medical examinations, the newly freed man is expected to be transferred to Barrancas, the town where his family lives and where he was kidnapped on October 28.

According to official figures, 32 people have been kidnapped by the ELN for extortion this year, and at least four are still being held by the guerrilla group.EFE

A policeman holds a poster with the image of Luis Manuel Díaz, kidnapped by ELN guerrillas, in Barrancas, Colombia, 06 November 2023. EFE/ Ricardo Maldonado Rozo