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Colombia ELN rebels say Liverpool soccer star Diaz's father to be freed

People attend a candlelight vigil for kidnapped father of Liverpool's Luis Diaz, in Barrancas

BOGOTA (Reuters) -A representative of Colombia's National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas said on Thursday the group will free the father of Liverpool soccer star Luis Diaz, days after kidnapping him in northern Colombia.

Diaz's mother Cilenis Marulanda and father Luis Manuel Diaz were taken by armed men as they were driving in La Guajira province on Saturday. Marulanda was freed within hours.

Colombia's government reported the ELN was responsible for the kidnapping earlier on Thursday. Interior Minister Luis Fernando Velasco said the situation was "very serious" and that it violated a ceasefire between the government and the rebels.

Peace talks between the ELN and the government restarted last year in hopes of ending the group's part in Colombia's 60-year conflict, which has killed at least 450,000 people.

The government and the ELN began a six-month ceasefire in August as part of talks.

Diaz's father will be released "as soon as possible," ELN representative Juan Carlos Cuellar told a community meeting, in a video clip shared by the ELN with Reuters.

Earlier on Thursday, the government's peace delegation charged with negotiating with the ELN called for Diaz's father to be released immediately.

"We remind the ELN that kidnapping is criminal, violates international humanitarian law and that its duty in building the peace process is not just to stop (kidnapping) but to eliminate it forever," Otty Patino, head of the government's peace delegation, said in a statement.

The ELN, Colombia's most radical leftist guerrilla group, has long funded its operations with kidnapping, as well as extortion and drug trafficking, according to security sources.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Oliver GriffinWriting by Oliver GriffinEditing by Alistair Bell, Diane Craft and Grant McCool)