The rebel group holding Luis Diaz’s father hostage said the ongoing military and police operation is delaying his release.
In a statement signed by commander Jose Manuel Martinez Quiroz, the National Liberation Army (ELN) insisted that it’ll maintain its promise to let Luis Manuel Diaz go. However, the group says it’s first waiting for “security guarantees” from the Colombian government.
Liverpool attacker Diaz’s father and mother, Cilenis Marulanda, were kidnapped at gunpoint in Barrancas, Colombia on Oct. 28. Marulanda was rescued later the same day. The government promptly deployed hundreds of police and soldiers to search for Diaz’s father.
“We are making efforts to avoid incidents with government forces,” the ELN said in the statement, according to BBC Sport. “The area is still militarized, they are carrying out flyovers, disembarking troops, broadcasting, and offering rewards as part of an intense search operation.
“This situation is not allowing for the execution of the release plan quickly and safely, where Mr. Luis Manuel Diaz is not at risk.
“If operations continue in the area, they will delay the release and increase the risks.
“We understand the anguish of the Diaz Marulanda family, to whom we say that we will keep our word to release him unilaterally as soon as we have security guarantees for the development of the liberation operation.”
Colombian interior minister Luis Fernando Velasco said last week “a safe area will have to be agreed” upon for the handover of Diaz’s father after the ELN agreed to his release.
Diaz returned to the pitch for Liverpool on Sunday. He scored a late equalizer for this team before revealing a message under his jersey that read, “Freedom for father.”
The Colombian attacker followed his emotional cameo from the bench with an Instagram post in which he pleaded for the quick release of his father, who is “a tireless worker, a pillar in the family.”
He added: “Every second, every minute, our anguish grows. My mother, my brothers, and I are desperate, distressed, and without words to describe what we are feeling. This suffering will only end when we have him back home. I beg you to release him immediately, respecting his integrity and ending this painful wait as soon as possible.”