Deadly Attacks on Togo’s Cup of Nations Team
A bus full of Togolese soccer players on their way to play for the Cup of Nations was attacked this week. After thirty minutes of machine gun fire, three were killed–two Togolese officials and their Angolan bus driver. Members of the Front for the Liberation of the State of Cabinda (in Angola), of the larger Cabinda separatist rebel group, are taking responsibility for the attack. Though the team wanted to continue on to the tournament and play despite this frightening tragedy, the government of Togo said no, citing the safety of the players as its chief concern.
While this may seem an isolated incident, one cannot help but wonder whether similar attacks are being plotted for teams participating in the World Cup beginning in June. South Africa is hosting the Cup–the first time an African nation will do so. Despite South Africa’s undisputed status as the most developed of the southern African nations, it has been widely criticized in recent years for xenophobic violent riots and instability. As the world literally gathers in June to watch footballers participate in the pinnacle of the sport some fear of similar attacks on South African soil may be closer to reality than a far-fetched nightmare.