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Togo Football Team Withdraws from Africa Cup after Attack

  • Scott Bobb

Togo's national football (soccer) team decided Saturday to withdraw from the African Cup of Nations in Angola after its team was attacked by gunmen. At least two people were killed and at least six others were wounded in the attack.

The attack occurred a few minutes after Togo's team bus, under Angolan military escort, crossed into the Angolan enclave of Cabinda. The team had been training in neighboring Congo Republic (Brazzaville).

The players said they hid under their seats as gunmen fired on them for 20 minutes.

Togo was due to play Ghana Monday in Cabinda in a highly competitive group that also includes Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.

Angola's Minister of Youth and Sports, Gonçalves Muandumba, told Portuguese television that the tournament would go on.

He says the incident is lamentable but the government wants to reaffirm that it will not affect in anyway the organization and security of the African Cup of Nations.

He said the Angolan government would reinforce security measures in order to ensure the success of the event and the safety of people. And he pledged to bring those responsible to justice.

Officials of the African Football Confederation Saturday met with Angolan officials to assess the situation.

The separatist Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda, FLEC, claimed responsibility in a statement to the Portuguese News Agency. FLEC since the 1970s has been fighting for independence in the oil-rich territory which is separated from Angola by the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The assistant coach of the Mozambican team, Amade Chabae, expressed concern for his team's safety as it left South Africa for Angola on Saturday.

"I mean, we have goose bumps, because with these attacks, we cannot say that it happened only to Togo, who knows what is going to happen to us?" he said.

But he noted that his team is to play in the port city of Benguela which is far from Cabinda.

The three week-long tournament is to kick off Sunday with a match in Luanda between Angola and Mali.