Overnight reports in local press in the footballer’s native region of La Guajira had claimed Luis Manuel Diaz had been rescued in a shootout with police which left two of his captors dead hours after his mum was freed from her ordeal.
But it later emerged only Cilenis Marulanda was safe with Luis’ dad still missing amid fears his hostage takers may have smuggled him out of Colombia and across the border into neighbouring Venezuela.
William Rene Salamanca Ramirez, the director general of Colombia’s National Police force, was today filmed speaking with the 26-year-old winger on his mobile phone from an undisclosed location in La Guajira where he travelled to after the kidnap took place.
He told the footballer, referring to him by his nickname of Lucho as he informed him he was about to leave for the town of Barrancas where Luis’ mum and dad were kidnapped yesterday afternoon: ‘Dear Lucho, you’re talking to William Salamanca the director of Colombia’s National Police.
Colombia’s National Police chief has told Liverpool star Luis Diaz every effort is being made to find his missing dad
Colombia’s National Police are offering a reward of 200 million Colombian pesos (around 50,000 US dollars) for help and information related to the kidnapping of Luis Manuel Diaz
‘I am here in La Guajira on the orders of Colombia’s President to lead and supervise the operation to rescue your father.
‘Last night we managed to rescue your mother and she is safe and well.
‘We are here and using all the air and land resources available with the support of the Colombian Army.
‘I will be keeping you informed Lucho but first let me tell you we are supporting you and accompanying you here and we want you to know we are no sparing no effort in resolving this situation which has touched all Colombians.’
Saying he was about to leave for Barrancas, he went on to ask Luis if his dad had any health problems.
The footballer could be heard replying on the other end of the line that he had ‘problems with his nose’ but it was nothing serious.
The police chief finished the conversation by saying: ‘That’s good. We’ll be in contact Lucho. All our solidarity and soon we hope to bring you good news.’
He spoke to the Liverpool player after Colombia’s Ambassador to the UK Roy Barreras described the kidnap of Luis’ parents as ‘miserable’ and said their liberation was being seen as a ‘national priority.’
He said in a direct message to the captors after it was confirmed Cilenis had been rescued and reunited with relatives but Luis Manuel Diaz was still missing amid fears he was already in Venezuela: ‘Mr kidnappers: In addition to a heinous crime, you have committed a terrible mistake!
Diaz’ shirt was held up by Diogo Jota and was met by applause at Anfield during Forest clash
‘You have offended the flag of Colombia, the shirt that I am sure you have also worn to shout the goals of the Colombian National Team that unites us all. You still have time. Avoid a greater tragedy. It will turn out badly for you! Correct the error Free Lucho Díaz’s father now.’
A man described as the best friend of Luis Manuel Diaz told a Colombian radio station overnight the footballer’s dad and his wife had been heading to the home of a relative of Cilenis near a petrol station where they had just filled up their car with fuel when they were taken hostage.
Victor Medina said: ‘It was 5.30pm local time on Saturday.
‘They had filled up with petrol and then went to a neighbourhood nearby to collect something from a relative of Celinis.
‘There the captors arrived, four men on motorbikes.
‘They threatened them with weapons, made them get into the same vehicle and sped off with the other two on a motorbike tailing them. They headed for a rural area.
‘The authorities were informed and there was a chase.’
Responding to claims there was an exchange of gunfire before Cilenis was rescued, Mr Medina said: ‘I haven’t had the chance to speak to her yet.
‘It’s a difficult situation. She’s back at home with doctors because we know she arrived quite distressed after what has been a trauma for her.
Diaz’s Liverpool teammate Diogo Jota dedicated his goal to him against Nottingham Forest
‘We’re just waiting for everything to calm down a bit before we speak with her.’
He added: ‘Luis Manuel Diaz is a person who is much loved in Barrancas and there’s never been any talk of threats.
‘He and his family are highly appreciated in this municipality and that is why he always felt calm and safe here.
‘But there is always going to be someone who wants to harm a family, a family which is bringing a lot of glory and a lot of recognition to Barrancas.
‘The general public rejects acts like this targeting a much-loved and respected family in our municipality.’