Colombian-born Liverpool footballer Luis Díaz’s father has been released by the left-wing guerrillas who kidnapped him 13 days ago, police sources and local media say.
Luis Manuel Díaz was handed over to United Nations and Catholic church officials by members of the National Liberation Army (ELN).
He was abducted on 28 October in the family’s hometown, Barrancas.
The footballer’s mother was also seized but was freed within hours.
Local media said Mr Díaz was travelling by military helicopter to the city of Valledupar, where he would undergo a medical examination before being returned to his family.
They also quoted authorities as saying that he was in a good state of health, with no signs of mistreatment.
According to El Tiempo newspaper, there were tearful scenes in the neighbourhood where the couple lived, with family members taking to their cars to drive through the streets in celebration.
Most of them were dressed in Liverpool team shirts bearing the number 23 and Luis Díaz’s name,
On the day of the kidnap attack, the couple was accosted by the gunmen as they had stopped at a petrol station in Barrancas, in the northern province of La Guajira.
The kidnappers later abandoned Luis Díaz’s mother, Cilenis Marulanda, in a car as police closed in, but dragged away his father.
Police originally said that a criminal gang was most likely to blame.
But a government delegation – which is currently engaged in peace talks with the rebel group – later said that it had “official knowledge” that the kidnapping had been carried out by “a unit belonging to the ELN”.
The ELN is Colombia’s main remaining active guerrilla group. It has been fighting the state since 1964 and has an estimated 2,500 members.
It is most active in the border region with Venezuela, where Luis Manuel Díaz and his wife live.
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