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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Tom Ambrose

Liverpool’s Luis Díaz begs for release of kidnapped father after scoring key goal

The Colombian footballer Luis Díaz has begged for the release of his father, who was kidnapped at gunpoint last month.

“Every second, every minute our anxiety grows,” the 26-year-old, who plays for Liverpool, said in a statement on Sunday. “My mother, my brothers and I are desperate, anxious and have no words to describe what we are feeling. This suffering will only end when we have him home with us.”

After scoring for his club at Luton on Sunday afternoon, Díaz lifted his shirt to reveal the words “freedom for papa” in Spanish.

The player’s parents were seized by leftwing guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in their home town of Barrancas on 28 October.

While his mother was found, his father remains missing.

Díaz thanked “the Colombians and the international community for the support that’s been received, [and the] many demonstrations of care and solidarity in this difficult moment”.

On the day of the kidnap, Díaz’s parents were seen on CCTV driving while being followed by men on motorbikes. The gunmen accosted the couple when they stopped at a petrol station in Barrancas, La Guajira. Díaz’s mother was abandoned in a car as police closed in but his father was dragged away.

Colombia’s government reported the ELN was responsible for the kidnapping earlier on Thursday. The interior minister, Luis Fernando Velasco, said the situation was “very serious” and that it violated a ceasefire between the government and the rebels.

Peace talks between the ELN and the government restarted last year in hopes of ending the group’s part in Colombia’s 60-year conflict, which has killed at least 450,000 people.

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