Soccer Sports

Colombia Mobilizes Troops to Seek for Kidnapped Father of Liverpool Participant

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The authorities in Colombia have mobilized the nationwide police and the army to search for the daddy of the soccer star Luis Díaz, a Colombian standout for the English membership Liverpool whose mother and father have been kidnapped in his hometown on Saturday. Given soccer’s recognition right here, the incident captured the South American nation’s consideration, however it additionally stoked fears of accelerating insecurity in a nation the place such kidnappings have been changing into much less widespread till a surge in recent times.

Mr. Díaz’s mom, Cilenis Marulanda, was rescued hours after she was kidnapped, President Gustavo Petro of Colombia said on Saturday night time. The Colombian nationwide police, the army and a unit that focuses on kidnapping dispatched officers, troopers, automobiles and plane to search out his father, Luis Manuel Díaz.

The mother and father of Mr. Díaz, who is named Lucho, had been in a automotive at a gasoline station in Barrancas — a city in La Guajira, a area of northern Colombia alongside the Caribbean Sea and bordering Venezuela — after they have been kidnapped by armed males on Saturday afternoon, in keeping with local reports and the authorities.

The Colombian authorities on Sunday morning introduced a reward of 200 million pesos (roughly $48,000) for any data that will assist find the elder Mr. Díaz.

They stated they have been in a rush to search out him as a result of they feared that he could be taken to neighboring Venezuela, a rustic marred by years of political, financial and social unrest. Luis Fernando Velasco, the Colombian minister of the inside, told reporters on Sunday that the authorities have been attempting to dam the suspects’ path to Venezuela as a result of their touring there was “one speculation” they have been working beneath.

“It’s not the one one, to cowl all sides,” he continued. “However we’re doing a huge operation, and I ask all individuals in La Guajira that could be within the space to assist us and switch in all the knowledge that they’ll. What they’ve carried out with Lucho Díaz is not only to Lucho Díaz however to all of Colombia, and all of Colombia must react.”

Whereas particulars of Ms. Marulanda’s rescue weren’t instantly identified, she was protected as of Saturday night time, William René Salamanca, the top of the Colombian nationwide police, stated. In a video posted on Saturday night time on X, previously often known as Twitter, Mr. Salamanca spoke briefly on the telephone with Ms. Marulanda.

In one other video, posted by Mr. Salamanca on Sunday morning, he spoke on the telephone with the youthful Mr. Díaz by way of the Colombian ambassador to the UK, Roy Barreras. Mr. Salamanca instructed Mr. Díaz, 26, that the Colombian authorities have been sparing no effort in looking for his father and that the state of affairs had moved the nation. He additionally instructed Mr. Díaz that he was already in La Guajira and was headed to his hometown quickly to assist lead the operation.

Mr. Díaz is reportedly incomes greater than $3 million a yr, and thus could have been a goal for extortion, stated Sergio Guzmán, the director of Colombia Danger Evaluation, a political threat consultancy, primarily based within the Colombian capital, Bogotá.

“I’m presuming it’s an extortion kidnapping, which wouldn’t essentially be out of the norm, as a result of Luis Díaz isn’t politically linked or an necessary participant politically, and neither are his mother and father,” Mr. Guzmán stated. “However his notoriety, his rise to fame and perceived wealth might be extra for that type of hostage taking.”

Though kidnappings have dropped dramatically since Colombia’s peace treaty with rebels in 2016, Mr. Guzmán stated the follow had surged over the previous two years. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, used extortion kidnapping to fund their operations. However in recent times, Mr. Guzmán stated, different legal teams have been battling for territory beforehand held by the demobilized FARC, and thus extra extortions, kidnappings and ransoms have been occurring.

“I believe it feeds into the present pessimism in regards to the nation’s safety state of affairs,” Mr. Guzmán stated of the kidnapping of Mr. Díaz’s mother and father. He additionally famous that Colombians have been voting on Sunday in regional elections. “If you happen to have a look at the newest polls, the vast majority of Colombians really feel dissatisfied with the general path of the nation, but additionally residents really feel much less protected than they’ve beforehand,” he stated.

Soccer is the most well-liked sport within the nation of almost 52 million, and Mr. Díaz has shined for his nation’s nationwide workforce, profitable the Golden Boot award, alongside the Argentine famous person Lionel Messi, for being the highest scorer in the course of the 2021 Copa América match.

Mr. Díaz’s father was a gifted newbie participant in Barrancas and skilled his son. Mr. Díaz, who’s of Wayúu descent and comes from an space usually neglected for soccer expertise, rose from taking part in for his native Indigenous workforce to bigger golf equipment in Colombia earlier than ultimately touchdown in Europe after which final yr at Liverpool, one of many largest golf equipment on the earth, within the Premier League in England.

Mr. Díaz, who has scored twice in 9 appearances for Liverpool this season, was not within the lineup on Sunday in opposition to Nottingham Forest after a last-minute change by Liverpool’s supervisor, Jürgen Klopp. Mr. Klopp instructed reporters on Sunday that what was occurring to Mr. Díaz and his household was “a worrying state of affairs for all of us and it was a reasonably robust night time.”

After the Liverpool participant Diogo Jota scored throughout Sunday’s 3-0 win, he ran to the sideline and held up Mr. Díaz’s jersey.

“It’s our fervent hope that the matter is resolved safely and on the earliest doable alternative,” Liverpool said in a press release on Sunday morning. “Within the meantime, the participant’s welfare will proceed to be our fast precedence.”