Luis Diaz: Liverpool footballer calls on kidnappers to ‘free father now’

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Liverpool footballer Luis Diaz has called for the release of his father, urging kidnappers to “free him now”.

The star’s parents were at a petrol station in the town of Barrancas, near Colombia’s border with Venezuela, on Saturday when they were abducted by armed men on motorcycles.

The winger’s mother, Cilenis Marulanda, was rescued within hours by police after roadblocks were set up – but the search continues for his father Luis Manuel Diaz.

The footballer issued the appeal via an Instagram Story post on Tuesday night – as his mother and other family members took part in a vigil calling for the release of their relative.

The 26-year-old posted an image advertising the event, which said: “March for the release of ‘Mane’ Diaz”.

The post also featured details of the time and location of the vigil, and added: “Bring your candle to light the light of hope – FREE HIM NOW!”

Police air and land patrols have been searching a forest in northern Colombia amid growing fears Diaz’s father may have been smuggled across the border into Venezuela.

Cilenis Marulanda, mother of Colombian soccer player Luis Diaz, joins a march to demand the release of her husband and the father of the Liverpool striker Luis Manuel Diaz
Pic:AP
Image: Diaz’s mother, Cilenis Marulanda, at the vigil on Tuesday. Pic: AP
Alfonso Diaz, grandfather of Colombian soccer player Luis Diaz, attends a vigil for the release of his son, Luis Manuel Diaz, in Barrancas, Colombia Pic:AP
Image: The Liverpool star’s grandfather Alfonso Diaz also attended. Pic: AP

Colombian special forces have also been involved in the search of the region, which includes a mountain range that straddles both countries.

Police have offered a $48,000 (£39,000) reward for information which leads to the rescue of Mr Diaz.

Officers believe they have identified two suspects involved, The Guardian reported.

Criminals in Colombia have long kidnapped civilians for ransom in order to finance their operations, but cases have increased in recent years.

Instagram story posted by Liverpool footballer Luis Diaz calling for the release of his father
Image: Diaz’s Instagram post advertising the vigil

The escalation comes despite efforts by the government to broker ceasefires with rebel groups.

Diaz is widely regarded as one of Colombia’s most talented players and joined Liverpool from Porto last year in a deal said to be worth around £50m.

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Search for Luis Manuel, father of Luis Diaz
Pic::@PoliciaColombia 0:45  

Colombian police search forest for Diaz’s kidnapped father

So far, no groups have taken responsibility for the kidnapping.

Thousands of fans, football authorities and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp are among those who have sent messages of support to the player.

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