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Soccer chief seeks Angola security assurances

African football leaders are to meet Angolan government officials on Saturday to seek assurances on the security of players at the African Nations Cup finals after Friday’s attack on the Togo team bus.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) had already said the January 10 to 31 tournament would proceed despite the attack in Cabinda, in which the driver was killed and nine others were injured.

CAF president Issa Hayatou will now meet Angola’s Prime Minister Paulo Kassoma in Luanda on Saturday.

“They will meet to take decisions to guarantee the smooth running of the competition,” said a CAF statement released early on Saturday.

Gunmen opened fire as the team were entering Angola from neigbouring Congo and the Togo team have yet to make a decision on whether they would participate in the tournament.

A group of senior African football officials are travelling with an Angolan government delegation to investigate the attack, responsibility for which has been claimed by a separatist movement in the oil-rich enclave.

The CAF condemned the attack on the Togo team.

“The Confederation of African Football is terribly saddened by this event and express its total support as well as sympathy to the entire Togolese delegation,” the statement added.

‘Act of terrorism’
Togo officials confirmed the wounded players were Serge Akakpo, who plays for Romanian first division side Vaslui, and reserve goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale, who is with French fourth division team Pontivy. The other casualties were training, medical and administrative staff.

Antonio Bento Bembe, the Angolan minister in charge of affairs in Cabinda, said: “This was an act of terrorism.”

In a statement published on state-owned news agency Angop, the Angolan government said: “The FLEC group that carried out this terrorist action came from the Republic of Congo and that is where it returned to after completing this action.”

Cabinda is a small enclave separated from the rest of Angola by a strip of land belonging to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The roots of the conflict between the government and FLEC are deep but one of the main grievances is that Cabindans see few benefits from the oil produced from their land.

Soccer’s world governing body Fifa offered its “utmost sympathy” to the Togo team after the attack.

Togo were due to play Ghana on Monday, one of six group matches and one quarterfinal scheduled to be played there. – Reuters

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