Colombia's ELN guerrilla group on Thursday freed the father of Liverpool footballer Luis Diaz, ending a 12-day kidnapping ordeal and triggering celebration in his hometown.
After days of negotiations for the handover, the rebels presented Luis Manuel Diaz to humanitarian workers at an undisclosed location in the Serrania del Perija mountain range on the border with Venezuela.
The elder Diaz, 56, and his carers then traveled by helicopter to the city of Valledupar, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) from his hometown of Barrancas in northern La Guajira department – where he was abducted on October 28.
Exiting the helicopter, Diaz walked slowly and waved at reporters who were kept at a distance.
According to Monsignor Francisco Ceballos, a member of the group that received him, Diaz spent "four days walking when they detained him, and two days now that they were going to hand him over."
When he was released he was "a little emaciated, tired, lame," Ceballos said.
Earlier, as news of his release broke, relatives of the footballer and his father embraced tearfully in Barrancas where they were gathered to follow the events.
Diaz arrived hours later to neighbors celebrating with drums and trumpet music outside his home, which was under police guard.
In a message broadcast on Blu Radio, Diaz said he wanted to "thank all the people... for this great support they have given to my family. I love them very much, soon I will have the opportunity to greet them and give them a hug."
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