Female guerrilla boss 'Patricia' named as kidnapper of Liverpool star Luis Diaz’s dad…as ELN terrorists offer hope | The Sun

A FEMALE guerrilla fighter known only as Patricia orchestrated the kidnap of Liverpool star Luis Diaz’s dad, it was claimed today.

Colombian newspapers are reporting the ELN’s so-called Northern War Front, led by the 40-year-old who uses the alias Patricia, carried out Saturday’s kidnapping of Luis Manuel Diaz.

The veteran insurgent is said to have spent more than half her life at war with the Colombian government.

She has been identified as the leader of one of the regional units of the left-wing rebel group which has now admitted responsibility for the abduction after being blamed by officials yesterday.

A senior Northern War Front member known only as Mateo is said to be holding the 58-year-old hostage with foot soldiers under Patricia’s orders.

The ELN, branded a terrorist organisation by the US government and the EU, has claimed it wasn’t aware one of its factions was behind the crime and promised late yesterday Luis’s dad would be released within hours.

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But despite social media speculation a release has already occurred, there has been no official confirmation and critics are branding the ELN claim as “scarcely credible".

A quick release might be an option as the Northern War Front currently have a representative at peace talks between the ELN and the government.

During his negotiations with ELN, Bernardo Tellez said the insurgents have no real desire to free Luis Diaz’s father unless they get paid lots of money to do so.

A release could also be on the table if the group’s leaders lose control over their regional units – either due to ELN infighting or if the Colombian government succeeds in ceasefire negotiations with the group.

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It comes as President Gustavo Petro promised to bring "total peace to Colombia" by negotiating directly with the country's armed groups, Al Jazeera reports.

Not much information has emerged about Patricia, apart from a grainy photo of her in military fatigues.

She reportedly began her guerrilla career in 2006, rising through the ranks of the ELN to become leader of the December 6 Front and later a senior member of the Northern War Front.

Patricia is said to have spent 26 years fighting for the violent guerrilla organisation which finances itself from criminal practices including extortion and kidnapping.

ELN yesterday confirmed the group was behind the kidnapping.

“We must recognise the situation you have heard in the news is true and the ELN is going to free Mr Diaz’s father as soon as possible," ELN representative Juan Carlos Cuellar said.

The ELN operates as a federation with regional units enjoying high levels of autonomy.

The group often implements different strategies according to their local needs.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has revealed he has spoken to Luis Diaz personally to reassure him about the government’s efforts to free his dad.

The Liverpool star spoke to the director of Colombia’s National Police force shortly after Luis Manuel Diaz was kidnapped on Saturday.

William Rene Salamanca Ramirez told the anguished striker every effort was being made to find the missing 58-year-old.

Yesterday evening, after the Colombian government confirmed the ELN was behind the kidnap, Mr Petro confirmed he had spoken to the footballer.

He said on his official X account: “We have spoken with Luis Diaz yesterday.

"We are working for the liberation of his father.”

Luis’s relatives prayed for his dad’s safe return at a church near their home overnight.

The father-of-four and his wife Cilenis Marulanda were kidnapped on Saturday afternoon at a petrol station in his their home town of Barrancas in the region of La Guajira near Colombia’s border with Venezuela.

Cilenis was abandoned by her captors hours later by the roadside as the police and army hunt for them intensified and reunited with her anguished family.

An elite police commando squad is focusing its search for Luis Diaz’s dad on the inhospitable Perija Mountains on Colombia’s border with Venezuela.

Two sniffer dogs called Laticha and Tekila have also been brought in to help.

A reward of up to £40,000 has been offered by the authorities for information.

Colombia’s police chief said earlier this week he believed Luis Manuel Diaz’s captors remained in the country and had not fled across the border to Venezuela as first feared.

On Tuesday afternoon relatives, friends and well-wishers took to the streets of Barrancas to demand his liberation.

The march began at 5pm local time and finished at the home of Luis Diaz’s parents.

Locals started decking out shopfronts with white balloons ahead of the protest and preparing banners which read: ‘No Al Secuestro’ and Liberenlo Ya’ – which would translate into English as ‘No To Kidnap’ and ‘Free him now.’

One local shopkeeper speaking ahead of the street demo said: “We are asking for the swift release of Mane Diaz, the father of Luis Diaz.

“We want him to return to Barrancas. He needs to return to his family.”

In a direct message to the captors, he added: “Please, free him. He’s done nothing wrong.”

In an official statement attributing the kidnapping to the ELN, the Colombian government delegation taking part in the peace talks said yesterday: “We have today been made aware the kidnap carried out on October 28 in Barrancas in the La Guajira region, which Luis Manuel Diaz and Cilenis Marulanda the mother and father of football player Luis Fernando Diaz Marulanda were victims of, was perpetrated by a unit belonging to the ELN.

“Despite Mrs Marulanda being freed hours later, the player’s father has now been kidnapped for five days.

“As the government delegation for the peace talks with the ELN, we express our solidarity with Luis Diaz, his relatives, with the whole country and with the millions of fans of the footballer.

“We demand the ELN frees Mr Luis Manuel Diaz immediately and we make it clear here that it is their sole responsibility to guarantee his life and integrity.

“We remind the ELN that kidnap is a criminal practice which violates International Humanitarian Law and that in the current peace talks process, it is their responsibility not only to stop committing this crime but also to eliminate it for ever.”

The abduction of civilians has been a traditional practice of the ELN.
In January 2018 the rebel group kidnapped an oil engineer in the north of Colombian.

He was named at the time as 41-year-old Andres Riano Ravelo.

Two Dutch journalists were kidnapped by the group in June 2017, the Colombian military said.

The ELN said in June when it agreed a ceasefire with the government that it would continue with the twin crimes of kidnapping and extortion “where necessary,” describing them as being essential to the group’s “finances.”

A negotiator for the group said at the time: “We don’t talk about kidnap, we talk about retentions. If they are not necessary they won’t happen.”

The Marxist-Leninist ELN, or National Liberation Army in English, was founded in 1964 by radical Catholics inspired by Cuba’s communist revolution.

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It was behind a car bombing in January 2019 at a police academy in Bogota which killed 21 people and injured 68 others, making it one of the deadliest attacks ever in the Colombian capital.

Peace talks have been going on between the ELN and the Colombian government since March 2020 when the guerrilla group declared its unilateral ceasefire.

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