Togo could withdraw from the African Cup of Nations following a gun attack on the team bus that killed the driver and two staff members on Friday as it crossed the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo into the Angolan enclave of Cabinda.
Goalkeeper Kossi Agassa said a Togo assistant coach and a spokesperson had died as well as the driver. Agassa also confirmed that a second team goalkeeper was badly injured and had been transported urgently to South Africa for treatment. Local officials had said on Friday that eight other people had also suffered injuries.
Togo's midfielder Alaixys Romao confirmed the players were at the airport waiting to return home, and were also encouraging other teams to pull out of the competition. “We're waiting for the plane to return to Lome,” the Grenoble player told L'Equipe.
“We're also talking to the other teams in our group to try to convince them to boycott the competition too.” Togo were due to kick off their campaign against Ghana on Monday.
Striker Emmanuel Adebayor admitted in the aftermath that many players wanted to go home. “I think a lot of players want to leave. I don't think they want to be at this tournament any more because they have seen their death already,” he said.
“Most of the players want to go back to their family. No one can sleep after what they have seen. They have seen one of their teammates have a bullet in his body, who is crying, who is losing consciousness and everything.”
According to Reuters, Togo will make a final call after consulting the players, a Togo soccer official said. Adebayor is on his way home and will not play in the tournament, his club Manchester City said. “He is on his way back from Angola but we are not sure exactly where his flight is headed,” City spokesman Simon Heggie said.
Injured Togo team member airlifted
A member of the Togo squad has been airlifted to South Africa for medical care. Goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale, who was struck by a bullet in the kidney, was flown to South Africa to receive treatment, Togo player Thomas Dossevi said. “He's going to be transferred to South Africa to receive treatment, but he will make it,” Dossevi said.
Attack won't impact World Cup: Organisers
World Cup organisers say the attack should not impact the tournament in South Africa later this year. Rich Mkhondo, media manager for World Cup 2010 organisers, said the incident would not impact preparations.
FLEC rebels claim responsibility
The attack was claimed by FLEC rebels, who are waging struggle for independence.
Portuguese colonialists ruled Cabinda from 1885 until 1975, when Portugal gave up overseas colonies following a left-wing revolution. The independence treaty signed with Angola’s main independence movements — but not Cabinda's FLEC (Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda) — incorporated Cabinda into Angola as a geographically separated exclave.
Cabinda's secessionists fought a low-level guerrilla war to throw off Angolan rule from 1975 until they were largely crushed as Angola's post-colonial civil war ended in 2002.