“Today we officially know that the kidnapping” of the father of Colombian footballer Luis Diaz, striker of the English club Liverpool, “was carried out by a unit belonging to the ELN”, the last guerrilla group still active in Colombia, said the government said in a statement on Thursday.

Luis Manuel Diaz and his wife Cilenis Marulanda, who has since been released, were kidnapped on October 28 in northeastern Colombia by men on motorcycles. According to authorities, the kidnappers did not contact the family to demand money in exchange for the release of the Colombian international’s father.

Large forces have been deployed to find him, and the government which is currently holding peace talks with the ELN is demanding his “immediate release” and reminding the ELN “that it is its sole responsibility to guarantee his life “, indicates the press release signed by Otty Patiño, official government negotiator with the largest rebel group on the continent.

The Colombian government and the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) concluded a fourth round of negotiations at the beginning of September in Caracas which are to continue in Mexico. A six-month bilateral ceasefire, decided during the last round of negotiations held in Havana and supervised by the UN, entered into force on August 3.

Initiated in 2017 in Cuba, the dialogue was interrupted by conservative President Ivan Duque (2018-2022) after a car bomb attack in June 2019 against a police academy which left 22 dead. Negotiations with the oldest left-wing armed organization in the Americas since the disarmament of the guerrilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, Marxist) in 2017, resumed in November 2022.

The government of left-wing Colombian President Gustavo Petro seeks to end six decades of armed conflict by holding peace negotiations with all illegal armed groups, including FARC splinter groups that have refused to sign the peace deal.

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