Two held in Angola after rebel attack on Togo team
Angolan police grilled two suspects in a deadly shooting attack by
separatist rebels on Togo's team which cast a long shadow Monday over
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
"Two assailants were captured on Friday, one a few minutes after the
attack and the second at the border while crossing into
Congo-Brazzaville," Cabinda's deputy governor Macario Lembe told AFP.
"The first suspect was injured in his left thigh by police who
responded when he opened fire from a tree at the Togolese bus."
Officials said the two suspects were part of a group of five gunmen who
launched the attack with automatic weapons. The other three managed to
The Togolese team withdrew from the African Cup of Nations following
the attack and returned home on Sunday evening 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
the spotlight on the government's inability to end a low-level
insurgency in oil-rich Cabinda. A splinter group of the independence
movement FLEC claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had
warned Confederation of African Football boss Issa Hayatou against
holding matches in Cabinda.
"This is going to continue, because the nation is at war," 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.
His government and African football officials pleaded to the last 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 Cabinda from
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
where he is now in a stable condition after surgery to treat gunshot
wounds to the back and abdomen. 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
But South Africa's police chief said that while lessons would be
learned from the attack, it was not fair to draw parallels with the
situation in Angola. "Comparing what happens there to what might happen
in South Africa in June is like suggesting that the train bombing in
Madrid and the terrorist attack in London would affect the (2006)
football World Cup in Germany," Police Commissioner Bheki Cele told
reporters on his return from Angola.
Togo's withdrawal has plunged the organisation of the tournament into
confusion. 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 series in
Cabinda, kicked off as planned, but there was tight security around the
stadium and at the players' village. CABINDA, Angola, Tuesday, AFP