ASTON Villa star Moustapha Salifou last night told how gunmen killed three people after opening fire on the Togo team bus in Africa.

Machine-gun wielding rebels ambushed the coach as it carried the squad to the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola, wounding at least seven others.

Reports from Angola last night revealed how Salifou and Manchester City star Emmanuel Adebayor helped save lives when the shooting started.

Togo team captain Adebayor was sitting directly behind defender Serge Akakpo, who was shot in the back in the attack by rebels in Angola on Friday.

Adebayor and Salifou, 26, dragged the wounded player to the floor as bullets tore through the coach.

Cowering in the aisle, Adebayor, 25, shouted at the rest of the Togo national team to hit the floor then bundled his injured colleague under a seat to shield him.

Akakpo, 23, of Romanian side Vaslui, was bleeding heavily from a bullet wound to his back.

Pictures yesterday showed the Togo team outside a hospital. Salifou was clearly visible looking very shaken.

But despite that, Togo insist they will play in the African Cup of Nations tournament despite the deaths of assistant coach Amalete Abalo and press officer Stanislaud. The third victim, the bus driver, has not been named.

Reserve goalie Obilale Dodo was among those badly injured.

Midfielder Salifou spoke in chilling detail about the attack and said he was lucky to be alive.

He told the Villa website: ‘‘It was only 15 minutes after we crossed into Angola that the coach came under heavy fire from rebels. The driver was shot almost immediately and died instantly, so we were just stopped on the road with nowhere to go.

“Our security people saved us. They were in two separate cars, about 10 of them in total and they returned fire. The shooting lasted for half an hour and I could hear the bullets whistling past me. It was like a movie.

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

“The goalkeeper, Obilalé Dodo, one of my best friends, was shot in the chest and stomach area and he has been flown to South Africa to undergo an operation to save his life.

“It was horrific. Everybody was crying. I couldn’t stay in control myself and I cried when I saw the injuries to my friend.

“I don’t know how anyone could do this. We were looking forward to playing football and to being together as a team. None of us can play football now.

„To be honest, I can’t sum up how I feel at this moment. My parents keep calling me from Togo every 30 minutes just to make sure I am okay and to see how things are going here.”

Rebels bungled the attack by first opening fire on a coach carrying the team’s kit, before using their remaining bullets to fire on the players’ bus.

Abebayor said: “It’s one of the worst things I have ever been through. It was horrific.”

Last night, players said they were pulling out of the tournament. Adebayor was even said to be on the way back to England. But this morning, it emerged they would take part.

Before that latest decision, Salifou said: “I am back at our camp in Cabinda with my team-mates but we all want to go home to Togo.

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

The 16-team African championship starts today in Angola, and Togo had been due to play their opening game on Monday against Ghana in Cabinda, where the bus came under fire.

The region’s main separatist group, The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Government ministers have said it was “an act of terrorism” by rogue members who have been fighting for independence since 1966.

Speaking today, Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill said:  „Something like that is going to live with him for a very long time, if not for the rest of his life. It was very, very harrowing and he is actually a very sensitive lad.

„He’s very popular in the dressing room. He’s very quiet. He’s got a wry sense of humour, but he’s an exceptional fellow and I think he will take this very badly indeed.

„We have a number of people at the football club who I think can help him. Some of the players who are quite close to him will give him as much counselling as possible but I’m hoping in time he will be able to settle down and get back to playing.”

Read the article on BirminghamMail.net

Revealed: Aston Villa star Moustapha Salifou’s heroic actions in Angola

ASTON Villa star Moustapha Salifou last night told how gunmen killed three people after opening fire on the Togo team bus in Africa.

Machine-gun wielding rebels ambushed the coach as it carried the squad to the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola, wounding at least seven others.

Reports from Angola last night revealed how Salifou and Manchester City star Emmanuel Adebayor helped save lives when the shooting started.

Togo team captain Adebayor was sitting directly behind defender Serge Akakpo, who was shot in the back in the attack by rebels in Angola on Friday.

Adebayor and Salifou, 26, dragged the wounded player to the floor as bullets tore through the coach.

Cowering in the aisle, Adebayor, 25, shouted at the rest of the Togo national team to hit the floor then bundled his injured colleague under a seat to shield him.

Akakpo, 23, of Romanian side Vaslui, was bleeding heavily from a bullet wound to his back.

Pictures yesterday showed the Togo team outside a hospital. Salifou was clearly visible looking very shaken.

But despite that, Togo insist they will play in the African Cup of Nations tournament despite the deaths of assistant coach Amalete Abalo and press officer Stanislaud. The third victim, the bus driver, has not been named.

Reserve goalie Obilale Dodo was among those badly injured.

Midfielder Salifou spoke in chilling detail about the attack and said he was lucky to be alive.

He told the Villa website: ‘‘It was only 15 minutes after we crossed into Angola that the coach came under heavy fire from rebels. The driver was shot almost immediately and died instantly, so we were just stopped on the road with nowhere to go.

“Our security people saved us. They were in two separate cars, about 10 of them in total and they returned fire. The shooting lasted for half an hour and I could hear the bullets whistling past me. It was like a movie.

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

“The goalkeeper, Obilalé Dodo, one of my best friends, was shot in the chest and stomach area and he has been flown to South Africa to undergo an operation to save his life.

“It was horrific. Everybody was crying. I couldn’t stay in control myself and I cried when I saw the injuries to my friend.

“I don’t know how anyone could do this. We were looking forward to playing football and to being together as a team. None of us can play football now.

„To be honest, I can’t sum up how I feel at this moment. My parents keep calling me from Togo every 30 minutes just to make sure I am okay and to see how things are going here.”

Rebels bungled the attack by first opening fire on a coach carrying the team’s kit, before using their remaining bullets to fire on the players’ bus.

Abebayor said: “It’s one of the worst things I have ever been through. It was horrific.”

Last night, players said they were pulling out of the tournament. Adebayor was even said to be on the way back to England. But this morning, it emerged they would take part.

Before that latest decision, Salifou said: “I am back at our camp in Cabinda with my team-mates but we all want to go home to Togo.

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

The 16-team African championship starts today in Angola, and Togo had been due to play their opening game on Monday against Ghana in Cabinda, where the bus came under fire.

The region’s main separatist group, The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Government ministers have said it was “an act of terrorism” by rogue members who have been fighting for independence since 1966.

Speaking today, Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill said:  „Something like that is going to live with him for a very long time, if not for the rest of his life. It was very, very harrowing and he is actually a very sensitive lad.

„He’s very popular in the dressing room. He’s very quiet. He’s got a wry sense of humour, but he’s an exceptional fellow and I think he will take this very badly indeed.

„We have a number of people at the football club who I think can help him. Some of the players who are quite close to him will give him as much counselling as possible but I’m hoping in time he will be able to settle down and get back to playing.”

Read the article on BirminghamMail.net

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