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Luis Diaz's father freed after being kidnapped in Colombia


Luis Diaz's father was released Thursday after he was kidnapped on Oct. 28 in Colombia, the Colombian football association announced.

Luis Manuel Diaz was freed as the guerrilla group National Liberation Army (ELN) handed him over to United Nations and Catholic church officials, according to BBC News.

The Bishops Conference of Colombia, which was involved in the handover, posted a picture of Luis Manuel Diaz on X, formerly known as Twitter, shortly after he was released.

"Long live Freedom and Peace," Colombia president Gustavo Petro wrote on X.

Luis Manuel Diaz was kidnapped at gunpoint at a gas station in his hometown of Barrancas, Colombia alongside his wife, Cilenis Marulanda. Marulanda was released the same day, but Luis Manuel Diaz continued to be held against his will before lengthy negotiations for his release began.

The Colombian government launched a massive search involving hundreds of soldiers.

A unit from ELN was identified as Luis Manuel Diaz's captors, with the group later saying the abduction was a "mistake" and agreeing to free him. However, his release was delayed, as ELN sought "security" assurances from the Colombian government. ELN and the Colombian government have been at odds since the 1960s.

The 26-year-old Liverpool winger returned to the pitch last weekend while his father was still in captivity. He scored a dramatic equalizer in stoppage time against Luton Town and celebrated by revealing a message under his kit that read, "Freedom for father."

"We feel a great satisfaction, we are glad that it's come to an end," Luis Alfonso Diaz, a cousin of Luis Manuel Diaz, told reporters in Colombia, according to BBC News.

Diaz featured for Liverpool shortly after his father's release in Thursday's Europa League defeat at Toulouse.

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