LUANDA, Angola – Gunmen in an area plagued by separatist violence used machine guns Friday to fire on a bus carrying Togo’s national soccer team to a tournament in this southwest African country, wounding at least nine people including two players.
Some players said they wanted to pull out of the African Cup of Nations tournament following the violence, but an official in Angola said it would go ahead as planned.
Togo’s bus in a convoy from Congo was six miles across the border in Angola when it came under fire. The bus driver died in the 30-minute ambush, according to Togo captain Emmanuel Adebayor, who was not hurt.
“We were machine-gunned like dogs,” Togo player Thomas Dossevi, who plays for French club Nantes, told Radio Monte Carlo. “They were armed to the teeth … We spent 20 minutes underneath the seats of the bus.”
The wounded were taken to a hospital in Cabinda. Portugal’s state-run Lusa news agency said it received a communication from the region’s main separatist group, FLEC, claiming to have carried out the attack.
Human Rights Watch called the apparent rebel attack “shocking.” The New York-based rights group said a 2006 peace agreement between Angola’s government and a faction of the separatist Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda was supposed to end conflict in the area, but “sporadic attacks on government forces and expatriate workers have continued.”
In Togo, the government put the total number of injured at nine and said the bus was traveling from Pointe Noire in Republic of Congo to Angola’s Cabinda enclave when it came under fire.