Fans and police clash at 2015 Africa Cup of Nations

By Taimour Lay in Bata
Posted on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 23:08

Hundreds of fans smashed concrete drains in the main walkway leading up the stadium 20 minutes after the Africa Cup of Nations match between Equatorial Guinea and Burkino Faso had kicked off.

The pieces were hurled at security personnel who responded with smoke bombs. At least two people were tasered and one witness saw a small group were taken away in police vans.

Fans were seen climbing over a wall between two security cordons before gathering at an Ebola check, the last barrier into the ground itself.

The resulting bottleneck for entry appears to have led to the stand-off with police.

The confrontation resumed at the end of the game, which ended 0-0, as fans left the stadium.

The security presence around the 35,000 seater ground was immediately stepped up when Gabon and Congo took the field for the second game of the evening.

There were security issues during the host’s first game of the tournament on Saturday when a security gate was torn down by fans while a press barrier was inadvertently knocked over by Gabon fans eager to catch a glimpse of their team.

The stadium was packed beyond capacity with many hundreds lining the aisles.

A policy of cheap tickets, with a further 40,000 given away free across the four venues to ensure capacity crowds, has led to huge interest in every group game so far.

The problems will worry organisers given that Equatorial Guinea, if they finish second in Group A, will play their quarter-final in Ebebiyin, a small stadium in the east of the country which holds under 5,000 people.

One opposition activist told The Africa Report that public defiance of the security forces was “extremely rare” and may suggest that large football crowds are creating a new space for expression.

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