Hundreds of people gathered in Barrancas, Colombia on Tuesday to form a mass protest demanding the release of Liverpool FC star Luis Díaz’s father.
Luis Manuel Díaz and his wife, Cilenis Marulanda, were kidnapped by armed men on motorcycles at a gas station in Barrancas, the family’s home town, on Saturday.
Marulanda was later rescued but Díaz Sr. is still missing, with a major police and military search operation ongoing.
A video posted by journalist Aldair Rodríguez Suárez on X, formerly known as Twitter, shows people marching through the town, some wearing t-shirts bearing Díaz Sr.’s face and many more holding aloft white balloons as they chanted for his release.
On Monday, Colombian police said they have identified people who could have been involved in the kidnapping.
“We have clarity on people who could have been linked to the incident,” General Alejandro Zapata, the deputy chief of national police, told a press conference on Monday.
“When events like this occur, it is generally not spontaneous – there is prior planning. People who drag people to a place, that is, they place them so that others arrive and that is what we are investigating.”
The search operation, which involves 130 officers from various police departments and 120 military personnel – as well as two motorized platoons, an unmanned aircraft, checkpoints, helicopters and a plane with a specialized radar – swept the forest bordering Colombia and Venezuela on Monday.
There had been speculation that the kidnappers would try and take Díaz Sr. over the border and into Venezuela, but Zapata said they have no evidence to suggest this has happened.
“What we know is that the kidnapping occurred in La Guajira and, logically, it is close to the border,” he said. “At this moment, we do not have any element that indicates to us that the border has been crossed.
“We cannot affirm it, but we do not rule it out either. It is very possible that they are looking for the possibility of escaping to that place.”
Zapata added that the police have “made progress in the investigation” and their information is being analyzed by special anti-kidnapping military and police intelligence forces.
Díaz Jr. missed Liverpool’s 3-0 Premier League win over Nottingham Forest on Sunday, with teammate Diogo Jota holding up the Colombian’s No. 7 shirt after scoring a goal.
“The only thing now for us is we try to support him as much as we can,” Liverpool assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders told reporters ahead of Liverpool’s League Cup match at Bournemouth on Wednesday, which Díaz will also miss.
“A lot of things are out of our hands [which] is completely normal. We hope that the authorities there that they can find his dad and that everything is good. We just pray for that.”
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