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Togo football team home after deadly bus attack

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-01-12

Police in Angola are holding two suspects in connection with Friday's deadly shooting on the Togo team bus, said media reports. The mourning football squad returned to Togo on Monday after the government recalled them from the Africa Cup of Nations.

AFP - Police in Angola grilled two suspects Monday over a deadly shooting attack by separatist rebels on the Togolese team which overshadowed the start of Africa's premier football tournament.
  
The pair were arrested in Cabinda, an Angolan enclave inside the Democratic Republic of Congo, close to the scene of Friday’s attack which ended with the death of the squad's assistant coach and media spokesman.
  
"Two people have been captured, when we have more information, we will pass it on to the public," Antonio Nito, Cabinda’s provincial attorney general, told the state-run National Radio.
  
The Togolese team withdrew from the African Cup of Nations following the attack and left Angola on Sunday evening to return home following orders from their government, despite appeals by the players to be allowed to stay.
  
"It's very sad. It's hard for Africa and for us," Togo captain Emmanuel Adebayor told AFP at the airport in Cabinda.


  
"These things are part of life, you have to accept it," the Manchester City striker added.
  
The tournament was meant to showcase Angola's recovery after a 27-year civil war which ended in 2002.
  
But the attack has instead shone an unwelcome spotlight on the government's inability to end a low-level insurgency in oil-rich Cabinda.
  
A splinter group of the independence movement FLEC (Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Angola) has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it warned Confederation of African Football (CAF) boss Issa Hayatou against holding matches in Cabinda.
  
"This is going to continue, because the nation is at war, because Hayatou persists," said Rodrigues Mingas, secretary general of the Forces for the Liberation of the State of Cabinda-Military Position (FLEC-PM).
  

Speaking at the tournament's opening match in Luanda on Sunday night, which ended in a dramatic 4-4 draw between the hosts and Mali, Angola's veteran President Jose Eduardo dos Santos denounced Friday's attack.
  
"We condemn this act of terror, but the competition will continue in Cabinda," Dos Santos said as he opened the tournament. "We are together, may the best man win."
  
His government and African football officials pleaded to the last second for Togolese authorities to allow the players to fulfill their wish to compete in the tournament to honour their slain colleagues.
  
The attack occurred as the Togo convoy drove into the Cabinda enclave from neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville on Friday, leaving players cowering under their seats during a 20-minute gunbattle with security forces.
  
Goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale was airlifted to a Johannesburg hospital to undergo surgery to treat gunshot wounds to the lower back and abdomen.
  
Togo's withdrawal has plunged the organisation of the tournament into chaos. They had been due to play Ghana in Cabinda on Monday evening but that match has now been cancelled.
  
However the match between Burkina Faso and tournament favourites Ivory Coast, the first of the tournament in Cabinda, is due to kick off at 1600 GMT.
  
The attack prompted calls for the tournament to be scrapped and Ghana's government has demanded extra security for its players.
  
It has also raised questions about players' security at this year's World Cup in South Africa, the first time the tournament has been staged in Africa.
  
Phil Brown, manager of English premier league team Hull, is among those who have called for his players to return from Angola immediately and said the attack threw a "question mark" over the World Cup finals in South Africa.
  
But World Cup organising chief Danny Jordaan said that the attack in Angola had nothing to do with South Africa and that a particular incident should not damage the reputation of the continent as a whole.
 

Date created : 2010-01-11

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