Head of terror group behind kidnap of Luis Diaz’s father concedes they made a ‘MISTAKE’ not releasing Liverpool star’s relative – as military operation escalates to 150 people in Colombia
- Head of the ELN – the group identified as kidnapping the father of Luis Diaz – has released a statement claiming they made a ‘mistake’ not freeing the man earlier
- There are 150 military personnel on the ground as action escalates in Barrancas
- Big debates on Liverpool, Man United and Arsenal on It’s All Kicking Off podcast
The head of the rebel group that kidnapped the parents of Liverpool star Luis Diaz conceded they made a ‘mistake’ by not freeing his father.
There are 150 uniformed military personnel in the area of Barrancas as authorities look to accelerate the release of Diaz’s father, with peace talks with the ELN, branded a terrorist group by the US government, continuing.
‘The retention of Luis Diaz’s father by the Northern War Front was a mistake,’ ELN commander Antonio Garcia wrote on his Telegram channel, according to AFP.
‘Lucho is a symbol of Colombia – that is how we in the ELN feel about him,’ Garcia added, using the nickname of the 26-year-old footballer, who returned to Liverpool training on Friday.
ELN, a left-wing rebel group, were identified on Thursday as the organisation responsible for Luis Manuel Diaz’s abduction.
Diaz’s (left) father Luis Manuel (right) is still to be released by left-wing rebel group ELN – but the head of the guerrilla group is reported to have said they made a ‘mistake’ holding the father
There are now 150 military personnel on the ground in Barrancas to speed up his release
Helicopters have been deployed with the footballer’s father still yet to be released by group
A man is searched at a police checkpoint as the military operation escalates in Barrancas
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The ELN group had promised to secure 58-year-old Mr Diaz’s release in a matter of hours after being identified as the culprits – but this has still to come to pass.
Now, in partnership with National Police, the air force and the army, 150 uniformed military personnel are in Barrancas to help facilitate a handover process.
Colonel Giovanni Montañez is the man orchestrating the military response.
‘It has been arranged by the Military Forces, with the National Army, the Aerospace Force, in coordination with the National Police. In the same way with the provision of the Attorney General’s Office. We continue with the deployment of units, doing repositioning,’ said the colonel.
This case began last Saturday when Diaz’s parents were abducted in their hometown of Barrancas near the Venezuelan border.
His mother was rescued hours later and returned to family but his father remains in the hands of ELN.
Kidnapping in Colombia has become increasingly common, with more than 38,000 people kidnapped in Colombia over recent years, mainly by groups attempting to raise funds through ransom money.
Colombian police have been searching for Diaz’s father who was seized at gunpoint last week
Head of the rebel group identified as having taken him released a statement on his capture
Speaking on Friday, Colombia president Gustavo Petro has said Liverpool star Luis Diaz’s father’s kidnappers have not come good on their promise to release him and his situation is becoming ‘very dangerous’.
From an address in Washington during an official visit to the US, Mr Petro said: ‘The ELN’s authorship means the ELN today is responsible for the life of the father of Luis Diaz.
‘It has committed an act that contravenes the peace process.
‘I have to express my most profound rejection, not only for having kidnapped Luis’ dad, but because in the ensuing developments, they have not been able to free him.
‘There is an expressed wish on the part of the ELN leaders to free him as soon as possible.
‘But the hours are passing, and as this goes on in time, the situation in which Mr Diaz is in becomes very dangerous.’
Liverpool face Luton Town on Saturday afternoon but it remains to be seen if Diaz will have any involvement, with his manager Jurgen Klopp insisting on Friday that it is totally down to the player.
The Liverpool star’s mother (above in 2019, left centre) was rescued after the pair were snatched off the streets of Colombia last week, but his father’s whereabouts are still unknown
Luis Diaz’s mother Cilenis Marulanda (centre) led a community march demanding the release of her husband, Luis Manuel Diaz, on Tuesday
Colonel Giovanni Martinez was quizzed on an update as he addressed the national media
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