Togo footballers injured as gunmen ambush team bus on road to Angola

Manchester City's Emmanuel Adebayor says team may quit African Nations Cup after terrifying ordeal

The Africa Cup of Nations got off to the worst possible start last night when unidentified gunmen attacked the Togolese team bus, reportedly killing the driver and wounding nine others, including two players. The West African team includes Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor, but he was not among the injured players, according to officials at the Premier League club.

The government in Angola, where the tournament had been due to kick off tomorrow, denounced what it called an "act of terrorism". Speaking after the attack, the Togo player Thomas Dossevi described a terrifying ordeal as heavily armed assailants fired automatic weapons at the bus.

"We were machine-gunned, even though we had two coaches of police escorting us," he said. The midfielder, who plays his club football with Nantes in France, said that goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilalé and defender Serge Akakpo were among those injured.

"It's madness, they shot at us like dogs for 20 minutes," he said. "They were wearing balaclavas and were armed to the teeth."

The team were travelling from their training base in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo to the north Angolan enclave of Cabinda when the attack happened. They had been due to play their first match on Monday against Ghana but, while the Angolan authorities were insisting that the tournament would go ahead, the Togolese last night threatened to withdraw from the competition.

Adebayor, the side's captain, told BBC radio that many of his team-mates wanted to leave and that he would convene a meeting. "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 today. They have seen one of their team-mates have a bullet in his body, who is crying, who is losing consciousness and everything. Tomorrow morning we will make a decision which is good for our life. We are still in shock. If the security is not sure then we will be leaving tomorrow. I don't think they will be ready to give their life."

Dossevi said that the group had just passed through immigration control into Angola when the shooting started. "Players received bullets in the abdomen and the driver was hit," he added. He said Akakpo "took a bullet in the back" and that Obilalé was "bleeding a lot". An official from the sports ministry in the Togolese capital, Lome, said the team's Angolan driver had been "killed on the spot".

The separatist group the Front for the Liberation of Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) claimed responsibility for the attack last night. Cabinda, separated from the rest of Angola by a sliver of DR Congo, has been blighted by three decades of fighting between a separatist group and the government.

Antonio Bento Bembe, Angola's minister without portfolio who is in charge of Cabinda affairs, said an investigation had been launched. "This was an act of terrorism that is being dealt with as we speak," he said.

There have been serious doubts about the wisdom of staging Africa's top football tournament in Angola, which is still recovering from decades of civil war. The vast, oil-rich African nation was seeking to use the tournament to showcase its new-found wealth and status after overtaking Nigeria as the continent's leading oil producer. But preparations had been hit by delays and a chronic lack of infrastructure.

Cabinda, sandwiched between the two Congo states, is Angola's main oil-producing region. Human rights groups have accused the military of a string of atrocities in the enclave and claim government officials have embezzled millions. The government has denied the charges.

The attack will also add to pressure on the World Cup host, South Africa, which is spending heavily to ensure security ahead of the tournament in June. However, sub-Saharan Africa's largest economy has incomparably better infrastructure than its war- devastated near neighbour to the north.

Many of Togo's players ply their trade in the French league but the two footballers who play in England, Manchester City's Adebayor and Aston Villa's Moustapha Salifou, were both unhurt.

"Club officials have spoken with Adebayor and though shaken by the terrible events, he is unharmed," Manchester City said in a statement.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015