Football Star’s Father Saved by Helicopter After Being Kidnapped in the Jungle

( – Liverpool striker Luis Diaz can now breathe a sigh of relief following news that his father, who was abducted by a guerilla group in northern Colombia, was released recently.

The kidnappers, who belong to the National Liberation Army, or ELN, said that the incident was a “mistake.” The group is currently in peace negotiations with a group representing the government of Colombia.

Diaz’s father, Luis Manuel Díaz’s, was taken from his home in Barrancas in Colombia on October 28. Speaking of his ordeal, the older Diaz said that he was made to walk “too much” for long distances with very little sleep, as his abductors kept moving around the mountainous terrain where he was kept. The 58-year old Diaz said that the experience was a “very difficult” time for him, and that he would not wish the nightmare he went through on any other person.

The rebels who had him eventually released him to officials from the United Nations and the Catholic Church.

Police initially believed that a criminal gang was responsible for the kidnapping, and reportedly arrested four people who they believe were involved in the abduction. The ELN later confirmed that their agents were responsible for the kidnapping, but said that it was made in error. There was also some difficulty securing a release for the older Diaz, as the rebels said that Colombian military deployments in certain areas near where they were made handing off the victim unsafe. Diaz was released after military forces changed their positions accordingly.

The footballer’s mother, Cilenis Marulanda, was actually also kidnapped, but authorities were able to rescue her only hours after she was taken.

Following his release, the older Diaz received medical care and has since returned to his hometown. His return was greeted with cheers by his neighbors and friends, while police guarded his home.

Luis Diaz is one of the most talented strikers in the Premier League, and has a $67 million deal with Liverpool. He was the reason that the kidnapping of his father received international attention – after scoring a goal for his team, he lifted a his uniform to reveal a shirt that read “Freedom for Papa” in Spanish.

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