On this day 8 January 2010 (Exactly 9 years ago)
The Togo national football team bus was attacked by gunmen as it traveled through the Angolan province of Cabinda for the Africa Cup of Nations. The bus came under machine gun fire just after it had crossed the border from the Republic of the Congo into the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda. All of Togo’s initial Group B games were to take place in the Estádio Nacional do Chiazi stadium in Cabinda.
According to rebel leader Mingas, the attack was carried out by his Commander Sametonne who claimed 15 FLEC fighters participated in the ambush. The siege lasted for at least 30 minutes. The bus driver, Mário Adjoua, was killed, cutting off all possible means of escape.
The passengers hid beneath the seats. A security team of around 10 men in two cars travelling with the team returned the attackers’ fire.
FC Vaslui defender Serge Akakpo was badly wounded by bullets and lost blood, as was goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilalé. Alongside both players, Vice-President Gabriel Ameyi of the Fédération Togolaise de Football and seven members including a journalist and two team doctors were wounded. Emmanuel Adebayor said the attack was, “one of the worst things I’ve ever been through in my life.” He had to carry his screaming teammates into the hospital as he was one of those least affected. Thomas Dossevi said, “It was a real hell. Twenty minutes of shots, of blood and fear,” and Richmond Forson said, “The bus carrying the luggage was riddled. Maybe they thought we were there. Then they opened fire, even against our coaches. It was terrible.” Dossevi said the team was “machine-gunned, like dogs.”
The Angolan separatist guerrilla group Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) has claimed responsibility for the attack.A statement signed by FLEC’s secretary general Rodrigues Mingas said, “This operation is just the start of a series of planned actions that will continue to take place in the whole territory of Cabinda.” French Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Bernard Valero said that “inciting violence is totally unacceptable” and Mingas could be prosecuted under French laws for making such statements. A larger offshoot group known as Armed Forces of Cabinda (FLEC-FAC) also claimed the responsibility. The leader of the group Jean-Claude N’Zita dismissed Mingas’ faction as opportunist.
Three people were killed and nine injured.
Améleté Abalo – Assistant coach of the Togo national football team and manager of ASKO Kara (died on 9 January 2010)
Stanislas Ocloo (died on 9 January 2010) – TV sports commentator/journalist for Togolese Television
Mário Adjoua – Angolan-born bus driver (died on 8 January 2010)
Kodjovi Obilalé– was shot in the lower back. The bullet split into several pieces making its way into his stomach. The goalkeeper’s condition was reportedly stabilized on 11 January. South African doctors suggested leaving bullet fragments in his stomach since the operation to remove them would possibly cause more damage.
Elista Kodjo Lano
Divinelae Amevor – physiotherapist
Tadafame Wadja – doctor
By: George ‘Alan Green’ Mahamah