A guerrilla group which has been fighting for independence since 1963 says its killing of members of the Togolese soccer team was an accident, because the attack was aimed at the accompanying Angolan security force.
The Johannesburg Star reported that the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) said it was trying to hit Angolan forces, which it sees as intruders on its land, who were accompanying the Togolese team.
The Times Online quotes a FLEC spokesman saying on French television:
This attack was not aimed at the Togolese players but at the Angolan forces at the head of the convoy. So it was pure chance that the gunfire hit the players.
Cabinda is a former Portuguese territory which forms a potentially oil-rich enclave separated from Angola by Congo. When Portugal abandoned its colonies in 1974, FLEC set up a provisional independent government in 1975.
The Angolan Communist MPLA, supported by the Cuban army, soon occupied the small enclave. The MPLA party has since dropped its Communist ideology, but still dominates Angola. FLEC, split into various factions, has been fighting to regain independence ever since.
Press TV says two men have been arrested by Angola, both from FLEC. The station says Togo decided to withdraw the team from the African Nations’ Cup, which killed the assistant coach. The team’s reserve goalkeeper, Kodjovi Obilale, was airlifted to a hospital in Johannesburg and is undergoing treatment.