Gunmen wound four in attack on African football stars
8 January 2010
A street vendor (L) sells the Angola´s flag and gadgets of Angola national football team in Luanda, three days before the 2010 African football Cup of Nations opening ceremony. Gunmen shot at a bus carrying Togo´s football squad to the African Nations Cup in Angola on Friday, wounding two players and two others and prompting a call for the tournament to be called off.
LUANDA (AFP) - Gunmen shot at a bus carrying Togo's football squad to the African Nations Cup in Angola on Friday, wounding at least two players and two others and prompting a call for the tournament to be called off.
One player said he believed the driver of one of the buses in the team convoy was shot dead when bullets were sprayed at the vehicles as they crossed into the troubled Angolan province of Cabinda from Congo-Brazzaville.
Many dived under the seats on the bus when the gunfire started, they told reporters.
Two players, goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale and defender Serge Akakpo were among the wounded, said another squad member Thomas Dossevi.
"One of them (Akakpo) took a bullet in the back and the other (Obilale) was hit in the kidneys," Dossevi told AFP.
Obilale plays at French fifth division side GSI Pontivy while Akakpo plays with Romanian outfit Vaslui.
The other two wounded were the team's goalkeeping coach and doctor.
All were being treated in a hospital in the provincial capital, Cabinda.
Another team member, Richmond Forson, said he believed the driver one of the buses in the Togo convoy had been killed but that none of the players lives were in danger.
The gunfire broke out as they were pulling away from the border crossing, players said.
Forson, who plays with French fourth division side Thouars, told the French sports channel Infosport that a bus carrying the team's baggage took the worst of the gunfire.
"It was the baggage bus which went in front of us which took the bullets because they thought we were in there," Forson said.
"They shot the driver of this bus and I think he did not come through, the windscreen was smashed," the player added.
Alaixys Romao, who plays for the French top flight side Grenoble, said the team was in shock and did not want to take part in the tournament which is due to begin on Sunday.
"We've got players wounded, members of staff, and we're all just waiting for news," he told Infosport.
"If it is possible, there should be a boycott of the tournament. Why not cancel all the matches. We just want to go back home."
Togo, one of Africa's top sides and who appeared in the last World Cup in Germany, are scheduled to get their campaign underway against Ghana on Monday.
They are captained by English-based star striker Emmanuel Adebayor whose club Manchester City said in a statement that he had not been injured.
The other teams in their group include Burkina Faso and the star-studded Ivory Coast whose squad includes Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and Barcelona midfielder Yaya Toure.
Contacted by AFP in Angola, organisers of the event said the team bus had simply burst a tyre, causing panic among those inside. After a second inquiry, organisers said they had no knowledge of the incident.
Oil-rich Cabinda has been embroiled in a long-running independence struggle but will host the seven Nations Cup matches this month.
The conflict officially ended in a 2006 deal with the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC).
FLEC however has made several media claims in recent months about attacks on the military and foreign construction and oil workers based in the province.
Angola as a whole is only just emerging from a 27-year civil war which erupted shortly after it received independence from Portugal and finally ended in 2002.