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Togo ambushed, Driver killed, six injured in machine gun attack on bus carrying footballers

Published:Saturday | January 9, 2010 | 12:00 AM


LUANDA, Angola (AP):

Gunmen in an Angolan area plagued by separatist violence opened fire on a bus carrying Togo to the African Cup of Nations yesterday, wounding at least six people, including two footballers.

Togo players said they wanted to pull out of the 16-nation tournament, though a member of the Angola organising committee said it will go ahead as planned from tomorrow.

Togo's bus had just crossed the border into Angola when it came under fire.

"We were machine-gunned like dogs," Nantes striker Thomas Dossevi told Radio Monte Carlo. "They were armed to the teeth ... We spent 20 minutes underneath the seats of the bus."

Dossevi told Infosport television in France: "We were surrounded by police buses. Everything looked fine and we came under heavy fire. Everyone scrambled under the seats trying to protect themselves. It lasted at least a quarter of an hour with the police responding."

players injured

The wounded were taken to a hospital in Cabinda and Portugal's state-run Lusa news agency said it received a communication from the region's main separatist group, FLEC, claiming to have carried out the attack.

Togo Football Federation vice-president, Gabriel Ameyi, said the team should have flown to Angola instead of travelling by road.

He said defender Serge Akakpo and back-up goalkeeper Obilale Kossi were among those hurt.

FC Vaslui said on its website that the 22-year-old Akakpo, who joined the Romanian club from Auxerre last year, was hit by two bullets and lost a lot of blood but was now out of danger.

Midfielder Alaixys Romao believed Togo should return home.

"If we can boycott it, let's do it," Romao told French TV channel Infosport. "It's just not on for us to be shot at because of a football match. All I can think about is stopping this competition and going home."

Dossevi agreed: "We don't want to play this African Cup of Nations," he told Infosport. "We're thinking about our teammates - to be hit by bullets when you've come to play football is disgusting."

Captain Emmanuel Adebayor told the BBC that "if the security is not sure then we will be leaving tomorrow. I don't think they will be ready to give their life."

The driver of the team bus was reportedly killed and Adebayor said that "a lot of players want to leave, I don't think they want to be at this tournament anymore because they have seen their death already."

FIFA expressed "utmost sympathy" in a statement.

"FIFA and its president, Joseph S. Blatter, are deeply moved by today's incidents which affected Togo's national team," the statement said.

"FIFA is in touch with the African Football Confederation and its president, Issa Hayatou, from which it expects a full report on the situation."

The tournament will still go ahead as planned, said a senior member of the local organising committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.