Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:39 am (KSA) 08:39 am (GMT)

Driver killed in gun attack on Togo soccer team

Togo fans are worried over the safety of their players (File)
Togo fans are worried over the safety of their players (File)

Unknown assailants opened fire on the coach carrying Togo's national football squad to the top African tournament in Angola on Friday, killing the driver and wounding four others, a Togolese official said.

"The Angolan driver was killed on the spot," said a Togolese sports ministry spokesman in Lome, adding that the attack took place in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda, where a separatist group has waged a three-decade long war against the government.

The armed wing of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) claimed responsibility for the attack, Portugal's Lusa news agency reported.

Antonio Bento Bembe, Angola's minister without porfolio who is in charge of Cabinda affairs, said the attack was "an act of terrorism" which was being investigated by authorities.

The sports ministry spokesman said the wounded included two squad members and two medics. He said some of those wounded would have to be evacuated for treatment, but gave no further details of their identity or the extent of their injuries.

The attack comes just two days before the start of the 2010 African Nations Cup, a pan-continental tournament which will have much of Africa glued to television and radio sets for the next three weeks.

Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor was uninjured after the attack in Angola, the Premier League club said on their website.

City said club officials have spoken with Adebayor and that he was unharmed, though shaken by the terrible events.

Togo were due to play Ghana in a Group B tie on Monday.

Togo are scheduled to get their campaign underway against Ghana on Monday, however player Thomas Dossevi said the players had already expressed a wish not to play the tournament.

"We don't feel much like playing the CAN Cup. Our thoughts are with our friends, the injured," said Dossevi, of French second division side Nantes.

Wounded players

Dossevi named goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale of French amateur side GSI Pontivy and defender Serge Akakpo of Romanian outfit Vaslui as among the injured.

He added: "We had just crossed the border (between Congo and Cabinda, where Togo are to play their Group B matches). We had filled in the border formalities and were surrounded by police. Everything was fine. Then there was a powerful burst of gunfire."

"Everyone dived under the seats and the police fired back," he said.

"It felt like war had broken out. It's shocking. When we got off the bus we were asking ourselves what was up."

Akakpo, he said, "took a bullet in the back."

"The official in charge of communications also stopped a bullet - he lost a lot of blood," Dossevi added.

Of Obilale "there is no news" save for the fact that "he was bleeding a lot."

"Getting shot on your way to a football match is just disgusting," said Dossevi, who added he believed that a goalkeeping coach had also been hurt.

Togo, whose skipper is Manchester City forward Emmanuel Adebayor, were set to face Ghana in Cabinda on Monday.

Cabinda had been expected to deploy heavy security at its Chiazi stadium.

Chelsea stars Michael Essien of Ghana and Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba are due to play the group stages there, one of four Cup venues in the country, but not all the security will be for the Premier League stars.

Oil-rich Cabinda, separated from the rest of Angola by the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been embroiled in a long-running independence struggle but is scheduled to host seven Nations Cup matches this month.

The conflict in the region officially ended in a 2006 deal with the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC).

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