Filed at 8:45 p.m. ET

LUANDA, Angola (AP) — Gunmen in an area plagued by separatist violence used machine guns to open fire Friday on a bus carrying Togo’s national soccer team to a tournament in this southwest African country, killing the driver and 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, and 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 slain driver was Angolan.

Togo said it was dispatching a delegation to Pointe Noire in Congo, where the Togolese team was holed up.

Togo Football Federation vice president Gabriel Ameyi said the team should have flown to Angola instead of traveling by road. He said defender Serge Akakpo and backup goalkeeper Obilale Kossi were among those hurt.

FC Vaslui said on its Web site that the 22-year-old Akakpo, who joined the Romanian club from Auxerre last year, was hit by two bullets and lost a lot of blood but was now out of danger.

Midfielder Alaixys Romao felt Togo should not go ahead with the tournament.

„If we can boycott it, let’s do it,” Romao told French TV channel Infosport. „It’s just not on for us to be shot at because of a football match. All I can think about is stopping this competition and going home.”

Dossevi agreed: „We don’t want to play this African Cup of Nations,” he told Infosport. „We’re thinking about our teammates — to be hit by bullets when you’ve come to play football is disgusting.”

The 16-team African championship starts Sunday in Angola, with Togo due to play its opening match on Monday against Ghana in Cabinda.

The African Football Confederation (CAF) condemned the attack against the Togolese delegation and held an emergency meeting. A delegation of Angolan officials and a CAF delegation will go to Cabinda on Saturday, while the Angolan Prime Minister will meet CAF president Issa Hayatou „to take decisions to guarantee the smooth running of the competition.”

FIFA also expressed „utmost sympathy” in a statement and said it expected a report from CAF.

A senior member of the local organizing committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said the tournament would go ahead as planned. He said Ivory Coast, considered the top African team, arrived early Friday in Cabinda, where Togo was also to be based as part of Group B. Burkina Faso had been there since Jan. 2, and Ghana was the other group member.

Even if the tournament goes ahead, the attack was a major blow to host Angola.

Angola has been struggling to climb back from decades of violence, and its government was clearly banking on the tournament as a chance to show the world it was on the way to recovery. A building boom fueled by oil wealth has included new stadiums in Cabinda and three other cities for the tournament.

Read the article on New York Times

In Angola, One Dead in Attack on Togo Soccer Team

Filed at 8:45 p.m. ET

LUANDA, Angola (AP) — Gunmen in an area plagued by separatist violence used machine guns to open fire Friday on a bus carrying Togo’s national soccer team to a tournament in this southwest African country, killing the driver and 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, and 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 slain driver was Angolan.

Togo said it was dispatching a delegation to Pointe Noire in Congo, where the Togolese team was holed up.

Togo Football Federation vice president Gabriel Ameyi said the team should have flown to Angola instead of traveling by road. He said defender Serge Akakpo and backup goalkeeper Obilale Kossi were among those hurt.

FC Vaslui said on its Web site that the 22-year-old Akakpo, who joined the Romanian club from Auxerre last year, was hit by two bullets and lost a lot of blood but was now out of danger.

Midfielder Alaixys Romao felt Togo should not go ahead with the tournament.

„If we can boycott it, let’s do it,” Romao told French TV channel Infosport. „It’s just not on for us to be shot at because of a football match. All I can think about is stopping this competition and going home.”

Dossevi agreed: „We don’t want to play this African Cup of Nations,” he told Infosport. „We’re thinking about our teammates — to be hit by bullets when you’ve come to play football is disgusting.”

The 16-team African championship starts Sunday in Angola, with Togo due to play its opening match on Monday against Ghana in Cabinda.

The African Football Confederation (CAF) condemned the attack against the Togolese delegation and held an emergency meeting. A delegation of Angolan officials and a CAF delegation will go to Cabinda on Saturday, while the Angolan Prime Minister will meet CAF president Issa Hayatou „to take decisions to guarantee the smooth running of the competition.”

FIFA also expressed „utmost sympathy” in a statement and said it expected a report from CAF.

A senior member of the local organizing committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said the tournament would go ahead as planned. He said Ivory Coast, considered the top African team, arrived early Friday in Cabinda, where Togo was also to be based as part of Group B. Burkina Faso had been there since Jan. 2, and Ghana was the other group member.

Even if the tournament goes ahead, the attack was a major blow to host Angola.

Angola has been struggling to climb back from decades of violence, and its government was clearly banking on the tournament as a chance to show the world it was on the way to recovery. A building boom fueled by oil wealth has included new stadiums in Cabinda and three other cities for the tournament.

Read the article on New York Times

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