Adebayor leads Togo pullout after deadly rebel attack

Saturday January 9 2010

A video grab from Angolan TV shows Emmanuel Adebayor (R) of Manchester City being comforted outside a hospital in Cabinda January 8, 2010, in this video grab obtained from Angolan TV January 9, 2010.  REUTERS

A video grab from Angolan TV shows Emmanuel Adebayor (R) of Manchester City being comforted outside a hospital in Cabinda January 8, 2010, in this video grab obtained from Angolan TV January 9, 2010. REUTERS 

LUANDA

Togo have pulled out of the Africa Cup of Nations as the death toll following the attack on their team bus in Angola rose to three, according to reports.

The assistant coach, press officer and driver were killed. Two players were shot and injured in Friday’s attack.

Organisers insist the tournament will go ahead and are stepping up security.

But Togo midfielder Alaixys Romao told French paper L’Equipe: “We’re talking to the other teams in our group to try to convince them to boycott too.”

Togo were due to play Ghana in their opening match Monday in the northern Angola province of Cabinda, where the attack took place.

Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso are the other teams in Group B.

Act of barbarism

Togo coach Hubert Velud told French radio station RMC that he thought the Angolan authorities should consider cancelling the entire tournament.

“We can at least pose ourselves that question,” he said. “It’s an act of barbarism while we are here to celebrate African football.

“We left the hospital a short time ago to come to the centre for the teams in the competition. We stayed in the hospital a long time so that we could be very united.

“In these situations you become a bit paranoid, you doubt everything. We don’t feel that the authorities are taking this very seriously.

Aston Villa’s Togolese midfielder Moustapha Salifou was thankful for the presence of the security team after he emerged unscathed from the incident, which happened after the team had entered Angola from neighbouring Congo, but he said he felt lucky to be alive.

He told Villa’s website: “Our security people saved us. They were in two cars, about 10 of them in total, and they returned fire.

“The shooting lasted for half an hour and and I could hear the bullets whistling past me. It was like a movie.

Heavy fire

“It was only 15 minutes after we crossed the border into Angola that we came under heavy fire. The driver was shot almost immediately and died instantly so we were just stopped on the road with nowhere to go.

“I know I am really lucky. I was in the back of the coach with Emmanuel Adebayor and one of the goalkeepers. A defender sat in front of me took two shots in the back.

“The goalkeeper Obilale Dodo, one of my best friends was shot in the stomach and was flown to South Africa to undergo an operation to save his life. It was horrific.”

Adebayor unharmed

“We don’t want to compete in the tournament because our assistant manager and the press officer have been killed. As a team we have made this decision.”

Togo captain, and Manchester City striker, Adebayor, who was on the coach but also unharmed, has been told by his club that he will be given as much time as needed to recover from the attack. (BBC)