SomaliPress.com

Nations Cup - Gunmen Attack Togolese Football Team

Published on Sunday 10th January 2010

Gunmen yesterday opened fire with machine guns at a bus carrying Togo's national football team players and officials to the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola, wounding many of them.

Officials say the shooting occurred in the Angolan oil-rich territory of Cabinda, where rebels have been fighting for independence.

Togo is due to play its first Nations Cup game in Cabinda against Ghana on Monday. Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast are the other teams in the group.

However, it is feared that Togo is likely to pull out of the 16-nation tournament following injuries to many of its players.

The Angolan government called the incident an "act of terrorism."

Manchester City star striker Emmanuel Adebayor was on the bus but was unhurt. In a statement, Manchester City said Adebayor had been "shaken by the terrible event but was unharmed."

Aston Villa also confirmed that its 26-year-old midfielder Moustapha Salifou was "shaken but okay" following the attack.

The bus was travelling to Cabinda (in Angola) from the squad's training ground in the Republic of Congo when the shooting happened.

"This was an act of terrorism," Cabinda Affairs Minister Bento Bembe told Reuters news agency.

Competition officials said they did not know that the Togolose team had decided to drive directly to Cabinda.

They said they had expected the squad first to fly to the Angolan capital, Luanda, and from there to Cabinda.

Togo's striker Thomas Dossevi told France's RMC Radio that several players were "in a bad state" after the attack.

He described the gunmen as hooded and "armed to the teeth." Dossevi said the team had just completed border checks when the firing started.

"We were machine-gunned, like dogs at the border with Angola. I don't know why. I thought it was some rebels. We were under the seats of the bus for 20 minutes, trying to get away from the bullets. There was a lot of blood on the ground," Dossevi said.

The identities of those injured, including team staff, are not known.

Midfielder Alaixys Romao said Togo is now likely to pull out of the 16-nation tournament.

"No-one wants to play. We're not capable of it. We're thinking first of all about the health of our injured because there was a lot of blood on the ground," he said.

Another player told French news agency AFP: "We were surrounded by the police and everything was in order. Then there was heavy firing and the police fired back.

"You would have thought we were in a war. We were shocked. When we got out of the bus we asked ourselves, why us? We don't really want to play in the Africa Cup of Nations again."

Romao said the players had feared the worst and he believed Togo was now likely to pull out of the tournament.

"We're not thinking yet of what could happen. But it's true that no one wants to play. We're not capable of it.

"We are thinking first of all about the health of our injured because there was a lot of blood on the ground. For the moment, there is not much news because they have been taken to different hospitals," said the Grenoble player.

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