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Jan 9, 2010

Togo withdraw from ANC as death toll increases

Togo have withdrawn from the African Nations Cup in Angola following the machine gun attack on their team bus on Friday, with the death toll now understood to have risen to three. Prem bosses want cancellation
Carter: Attack did irreparable damage
Paper round: Big shadow over ANC

The team bus was attacked by rebels after crossing the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo into the Angolan enclave of Cabinda ahead of the tournament.

There have been conflicting reports about the identity of those shot, but Togo assistant coach Abalo Amelete and a spokesperson, Stanislas Ocloo, have died along the bus driver; while the condition of goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale, who was reported dead earlier, is unclear.

Kodjo Samlan, a Confederation of African Football (CAF) official, confirmed that Ocloo and Amnalate had died. "Communications chief Stanislas Ocloo and assistant coach Abalo Amnalete died at four o'clock this morning," he said.

Confusion came as striker Jonathan Ayite confirmed that Obilale had also been killed, telling French radio station RMC: "He (Obilale) is dead and even if you bring the president and even (Barack) Obama himself, we're leaving immediately. We're going back home. Ghana and the Ivory Coast are in solidarity with us.''

But a statement from Obilale's club, French team GSI Pontivy, read: ''According to news given by coach Alain Le Dour and GSI Pontivy president Philippe Le Mestre, Kodjovi Obilale is not dead, despite the news reported on the internet, radio and television, and has been moved to South Africa.''

Defender Serge Akakpo, who plays his club football in Romania, was confirmed by his club last night as the other player shot in the attack. Reports in France suggested early on Saturday that the players had taken the decision not to take part in the competition, which starts on Sunday, and midfielder Alaixys Romao later confirmed they had withdrawn.

"We're waiting for the plane to return to Lome," the Grenoble player told L'Equipe. "We're also talking to the other teams in our group to try to convince them to boycott the competition, too."

A statement on Manchester City's website also stated that Emmanuel Adebayor and his team-mates were returning to their clubs.

It read: "Togo has pulled out of the Africa Cup of Nations after their team bus came under gunfire in Angola. City star Emmanuel Adebayor, who is captain of the Togo side, was unharmed in the ambush and he and his team-mates met this morning before deciding that they wished to pull out of the tournament.

"Their first game in the tournament had been scheduled to take place on Monday against Ghana, but they are now heading home to their families. Two players were shot and injured in the attack in the northern province of Cabinda, and the coach driver was killed. Seven others were wounded. Organisers have so far insisted the tournament will go ahead.

"The club is in regular contact with Emmanuel, his advisors and the English Football Association. It has been made clear by manager Roberto Mancini and senior officials that Emmanuel will now be given as much time as he needs to recover from the horrific attack."

Coach Hubert Velud had earlier claimed the authorities should seriously consider whether to call off the tournament after the attack. Angola insist their country is committed to hosting a secure tournament and said they would step up security.

Officials are set to hold a meeting with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Saturday and Velud believes the future of the competition should be called into question.

"We can at least pose ourselves that question," Velud told French radio station RMC on Saturday morning. "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.

"I don't mean that they want to hush up the matter, but almost. What will happen I don't know. We will have a meeting with the players and technical staff to take a decision.''

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