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The ELN admits that kidnapping Luis Diaz’s father was a’mistake’ and promises to release him

The leader of Colombia’s ELN guerilla group admitted on Saturday that the abduction of Liverpool footballer Luis Diaz’s father last week was a “mistake” and vowed to fight for his release.


Diaz’s parents were kidnapped last Saturday in Barrancas, near the Venezuelan border, but his mother was recovered hours later.

Authorities have implicated an ELN squad for the kidnapping and initiated a huge hunt for Diaz’s father, Luis Manuel Diaz.

“The retention of Luis Diaz’s father by the Northern War Front was a mistake,” ELN leader Antonio Garcia said on his Telegram channel.

“Lucho is a symbol of Colombia — that is how we in the ELN feel about him,” he continued, referring to the 26-year-old Diaz’s nickname, who has made 11 appearances for Liverpool this season and scored three goals.

The event has threatened to undermine high-stakes peace talks between the rebels and socialist President Gustavo Petro, which are taking place in the midst of a six-month ceasefire.

On Wednesday, ELN peace negotiators informed their government counterparts that Diaz’s father was being held by the Northern War Front.

Garcia stated in a Telegram post on Saturday that the ELN’s central command was overseeing attempts to rescue the footballer’s father and had asked its sections to comply.

“We hope that the operational situation on the ground can be resolved, this is the guidance that the commanders have to expedite the release,” Garcia said.

Local media have published a statement purportedly from the Northern War Front, in which the rebels explain they had kidnapped Diaz’s father for ransom and didn’t realize he was the father of the country’s football star.

The statement could not be independently verified.

Two friends of Diaz’s father have composed a song calling for his release.

“Enough of the kidnappings in Colombia,” one of the two men, Libardo Brito, told AFP.