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Lessons from Togo attack for World Cup host South Africa?

The news that Angolan separatists sprayed bullets into the Togo team's bus on Friday, killing three and wounding several others, has cast a dark shadow over the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament. What can South Africa learn from this?

By Matthew ClarkAfrica editor / January 11, 2010

Mali players bow their heads in a moment of silence for those killed in an attack on the Togo team, ahead of the start of their African Cup of Nations Group A soccer match against Angola at November 11 Stadium, in Luanda, Angola, Sunday.

Rebecca Blackwell/AP

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Soccer fans, players, and officials are still reeling after Friday's brutal ambush of the Togolese soccer team as it traveled through northern Angola to play its opening match in the star-studded African Cup of Nations.

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The news that Angolan separatists sprayed bullets into the Togo team's bus, killing three and wounding several others, came as a complete shock to everyone but the rebels and has cast a dark shadow over Africa's top soccer tournament.

Now, the timing of the attack – just months before South Africa hosts the first World Cup ever to be held on African soil – is renewing questions as to how prepared that country is to keep fans and players safe during the June 11-July 11 World Cup.

South Africa insists that it is "very unfair'' to question their security plans for the world's premier sporting event due to a surprise attack in the remote, lawless corner of Cabinda Province in the far less-developed country of Angola.

“It is nonsensical for South Africa to be tainted with what happens in Angola, which is not even one of our neighbouring countries,” said chief South African World Cup organizer Danny Jordaan.

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German soccer officials, however, beg to differ.

"We can't simply say that South Africa is something else than Angola," said German football league (DFL) president Reinhard Rauball.

German football federation (DFB) president Theo Zwanziger agrees. “The incident is unbelievable. It is painful and regrettable," said Mr. Zwanziger. "We as the DFB must tell our players and coaches that we are doing our best for their safety.

Even security analysts in South Africa are warning that the attack in Angola could encourage violent groups to launch attacks during the World Cup, reports The Guardian.

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