LUIS Diaz's dad will be released by his kidnappers after they verified his relation to the Liverpool star, Colombian terrorist group Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN) confirmed.

Luis Manuel Díaz Jimenez, 58, was taken hostage at gunpoint alongside his wife last Saturday and abducted from their home town of Barrancas in La Guajira, Colombia.

It comes after the ELN was identified on Thursday as the group responsible for seizing the Liverpool winger's parents.

ELN rebels later claimed responsibility and offered the Diaz family a glimmer of hope, promising to release Luis Manuel within "hours".

A representative for the terrorist group, Juan Carlos Cuellar, said: "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."

The terrorist group has now revealed it has begun the process of releasing Luis Manuel.

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It said in a statement obtained by El Colombiano: "We salute Colombia and the Caribbean.

"We are in solidarity with the families who experience pain and tragedies due to unemployment, the criminal violence of paramilitarism and the abandonment of the State.

"The corruption of political clans is the main threat to the stability of the region.

"The Northern War Front has commands with economic missions and one of them carries out a privation of freedom, which, after being reported and verified that it is the priest of Lucho Diaz, is guided by his release because he is a family member of the great sportsman that we all love as Colombians.

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"From that moment on, the release process begins and we want to avoid any incident. Firm in the search for the paths of peace, with the necessary transformations that the country needs. From the Caribbean."

The kidnap by the communist ELN rebels is believed to have been masterminded by a 40-year-old female fighter called Patricia.

News of the winger's father's release comes following speculation he was being taken to Venezuela.

Luis Manuel and Diaz's mother, Cilenis Marulanda, were reportedly at a petrol station in Barrancas when they were approached by two armed men.

Police quickly launched a desperate search for the missing couple.

It was later reported Diaz's mother had been found safe and was taken into police protection after the guerrilla group left her in a car.

Cilenis made her first appearance since the kidnapping earlier this week and demanded her partner's release, as Diaz urged members of the public to march in solidarity with his family.

Colombian authorities confirmed the ELN were behind the abduction on Thursday.

Leader of the Colombian government's peace delegation Otty Patino said at the time: "Today we have had official knowledge that the kidnapping was perpetrated by a unit belonging to the ELN.

"To the ELN, we demand the immediate release of Mr Luis Manuel Diaz and we remind them that it is their responsibility to guarantee his life and integrity.

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"We remind the ELN that kidnapping is a criminal practice, in violation of International Humanitarian Law."

A reward of 200million Colombian pesos (£41,000) is being offered in return for information on Luis Manuel's location as officials continue their search for the beloved dad.

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