Luis Diaz's parents kidnapped in Barrancas, Colombia; president Gustavo Petro has deployed the army in search for Diaz's dad, who is still missing; his mother has been rescued
Monday 30 October 2023 15:23, UK
Liverpool midfielder Luis Diaz's parents were kidnapped in Colombia after being stopped by gunmen on motorbikes.
His mother was later rescued but his father remains missing.
Cilenis Marulanda was rescued by police in the city of Barrancas, Colombia's President Gustavo Petro said.
"In a padlock operation in Barrancas, Luis Diaz's mother has been rescued, we continue the search for the father," the President tweeted.
Meanwhile, the country's police director, General William Salamanca, said he is using every agent to find Diaz's father.
The 26-year-old Colombian international's parents were reportedly kidnapped as they drove to their home.
Early reports suggest they were at a petrol station aboard a truck when they were approached by armed men travelling on motorbikes.
Army resources have been deployed along with the police.
Colombia's soccer federation said the kidnapping was regrettable - and urged authorities to rescue the father.
"The Colombian Football Federation rejects the security situation that the parents of our player Luis Díaz are going through," a statement said.
"From the FCF, we express our solidarity with him and his entire family, and we call for the relevant authorities to act as quickly as possible to resolve the situation."
The Colombian attorney General's office also said in a statement: "From the moment when Colombia's General Prosecutor's Office learned of the kidnapping of the parents of Colombian player Luis Díaz in the Barrancas area of La Guajira, a specialist team of prosecutors, CTI (Technical Investigation Team) officials and investigators from the police and military have been taking urgent action to locate these individuals, clarify the chain of events and identify the culprits."
Diaz was not in the match-day squad for Liverpool's Premier League clash with Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
A Liverpool statement said: "It is our fervent hope that the matter is resolved safely and at the earliest possible opportunity. In the meantime, the player's welfare will continue to be our immediate priority."
The Director general of Colombia's National Police gave an update on Monday in which he urged caution over suggestions Luis Manuel could have been taken across the border with Venezuela.
General William Rene Salamanca Ramirez told Colombia media outlet Semana: "I want to be very cautious (on the reports of Luis Manuel being in Venezuela).
"I flew over the area and they would have to cross the Perija mountain range, but I think that a person cannot make it (across) in that area.
"We were trying to leave some commandos there and we couldn't because of the denseness of the jungle.
"Also since last night, there has been a blockade that the army made in the lower part of the mountains, which would be the exit to Venezuela."
FIFA has sent its "support and prayers" with president Gianni Infantino writing on Instagram: "On behalf of FIFA and the global football community, I would like to extend our support and prayers to Luis Diaz, his family and his friends in these difficult times."
Analysis by South American Football Expert Tim Vickery:
"This is a huge trauma for Colombian society. These kind of kidnappings, if you go back a few years, they were going at a rate of about 4000 per year when the FARC guerillas were using them to raise funds.
"I remember my first time in Colombia for the 2001 Copa America, the first time Colombia had ever staged anything like this, and it nearly did not go ahead as a senior member of the Colombia FA was kidnapped shortly before the tournament. Argentina did not turn up at the last moment, Mauro Silva, the Brazil international, checked in at Rio airport, then got scared and decided not to go and then at Bogota airport his suitcase was rather pathetically going round the carousel.
"And these kind of events are a real trauma for Colombian society - the Colombians were so happy that anyone had gone there to see Colombia with their own eyes and come to the conclusion there were many other things that were great about Colombia, not just the negative headlines that people read about in newspapers.
"Since then, the number of kidnappings have gone down and down and down to around 200 a year, but Colombia is in trauma today because yet again, the world is reading about Colombia for negative reasons.
"This is a very, very worrying time obviously for Luis Diaz and his family. There is always the fear, as happened further north in Honduras a few years ago, to the brother of the then Tottenham midfielder Wilson Palacios, that the kidnappers decide just to cut their losses and anything could happen then.
"Unfortunately, it is the very success and the riches he accumulates from that success that makes him a target for this type of nefarious operation."