A senior official of the dissident group that launched a fatal ambush on the Togo football team has expressed his “condolences”, saying rebels attacked their bus by mistake.
Rodrigues Mingas, secretary general of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Flec), said his fighters had meant to attack security guards as the convoy passed through the Angolan province of Cabinda, which sits wholly inside Congo.
Angolan state media reported two arrests in connection with Friday’s attack, which came as the Togo team travelled to the Africa Cup of Nations. Three people were killed — the team’s assistant coach, its official spokesman and the bus driver.
“This attack was not aimed at the Togolese players but at the Angolan forces at the head of the convoy,” Mingas told France 24 television. “So it was pure chance that the gunfire hit the players. We don't have anything to do with the Togolese and we present our condolences to the African families and the Togo government. We are fighting for the total liberation of Cabinda.”
Togo's players reluctantly left Angola late on Saturday for three days of mourning. They had said they wanted to compete in the tournament to honour the dead, but their government dispatched the presidential plane after saying it was not safe to stay.
Togo's prime minister, Gilbert Houngbo, said Angola had not done enough to protect the team after the attack.
Thomas Dossevi, a team forward, said: "We fully understand our government's decision to leave because they didn't receive enough guarantees for our security. We as players, we wanted to stay to honour the memory of our dead people, but both positions are understandable."
Togo officially disqualified
The African football confederation says Togo has been officially disqualified from the tournament.
CAF coordinator Yaouba Amoa said that “the team is disqualified. This (group) will be a three-team tournament”.
Ivory Coast were to play Burkina Faso later Monday in Group B. Ghana will play their first game on Friday against Ivory Coast.
The opening ceremony of Africa's most famous football tournament went ahead on Sunday.