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Togo officially disqualified from Africa Cup of Nations

11 January 10 19:47 GMT

Togo have been officially disqualified from the Africa Cup of Nations, according to tournament organisers.

"They are disqualified. This group (B) is a three-team tournament," said the Confederation of African Football.

The Togo team flew home from Angola on Sunday after Friday's gun attack on their bus which left three people dead.

But there had been conflicting reports concerning Togo's participation in the event, where they were in a group with Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Ghana.

Togo had been due to open their campaign against Ghana on Monday.

Earlier, Togo's Prime Minister Gilbert Huongbo had denied the country had wanted to re-enter the tournament.

Huongbo's assertion came despite claims from Togo's sports minister, Christophe Tchao, that a formal request had been made to return after a three-day period of mourning.

That request was turned down by Caf, which said that Togo would be disqualified if they failed to play the group match against Ghana.

Caf also said in a statement that they had "decided to cancel all the matches of the Togolese team in the frame [sic] of this group", following Togo's withdrawal.

Huongbo added: "The information that has been circulated on some websites saying the players are just back [in Togo] for three days' mourning and will then go back playing is quite wrong.

"We withdrew our team on the basis they have been the victim of a terrorist attack."

Huongbo has also hit out at the way Togo has been treated by Caf.

Huongbo insists the decision to withdraw was not made in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, but after support from Caf proved non-forthcoming.

"Management did not give us enough assurance," he said. "We would leave our team being exposed to similar risks. Therefore we decided to pull our team out of the competition against our will.

"We will have hoped that one can have serene discussion with the host country, with the Confederation, to assess what has happened, assess what one has to do.

"We received no co-operation from the Confederation in terms of any kind of assessment.

"Our analysis is that they want it (the shooting) to be seen as a non-event and the show must go on as planned; there mustn't be an official change and Togo is causing problems to the festival."

The Togo team returned to their home country on Sunday after apparently agonising over whether to stay in Angola or not.

At first, they were reportedly keen to leave but then considered staying on after a team meeting.

In the end, the decision was made for them by their government and Huongbo says there was no option.

He said: "What if something happened again? What is our responsibility? It is a matter of taking seriously the safety of our people.

"It is not my pleasure we withdraw, we don't want to play into the hands of the terrorists, but we have a responsibility to protect our people."

Angolan police announced on Monday they had arrested two people in relation to the attack, which killed an assistant coach, press officer and bus driver.

Prosecutors in the troubled Cabinda province where the shooting took place said two members of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda forces, or Flec, were captured on Sunday.

Several Togo players were injured in the attack, some of them seriously.

Reserve goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale, who was shot twice, is in a stable condition in intensive care in a South African hospital after undergoing emergency surgery.

"The medical team is satisfied with the progress of Mr Obilale," said doctor Ken Boffard. "He will however remain in the trauma intensive care unit until he is fully out of danger."

Boffard stated that one of the bullets that hit Obilale would not be removed from his body because of the risk of causing further injury.

During the tournament's opening ceremony in Luanda on Sunday, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos condemned the attack but insisted that Cabinda would still play a part in staging the event.

"Despite the terrorist attack, Cabinda will remain a hosting city," he said. "There is no need to be afraid."

The first match took place in Cabinda on Monday with Ivory Coast playing Burkina Faso. There are another three games due to be played there: Ivory Coast v Ghana, Mali v Malawi and one of the quarter finals on 24 January.

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