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France to respond to FLEC threats

PARIS, January 11- France on Sunday vowed a response to comments from a Angolan separatist whose group has claimed the deadly attack against Togo's football squad, after the France-based rebel threatened more violence."Such comments are unacceptable and will not go without a response," said Bernard Valero, spokesman for the French foreign ministry. "We condemn them in the strongest terms. Nothing can justify the call to violence, nor inciting violence through the press."

Valero added that "France had immediately condemned the attack on the bus that transported the Togo national team and demanded that those responsible be pursued, arrested and held responsible for their crimes before the courts."

Rodrigues Mingas, secretary general of the Forces for the Liberation of the State of Cabinda-Military Position (FLEC-PM), who now lives in exile in France, had earlier threatened further violence in an interview with AFP.

Friday’s gun attack that killed at least two members of the Togo squad cast a pall over the opening of Africa’s premier football tournament, the Africa Cup of Nations.

"This is going to continue, because the nation is at war, because Hayatou persists," said Mingas, referring to Confederation of African Football boss Issa Hayatou.

"Weapons will continue to talk. This is our home, and it’s time Angola understood that."

He told AFP by telephone: "We wrote two months before the Nations Cup to Mr Issa Hayatou to warn him that we were at war. He did not want to take our warnings into consideration.

"They were warned, they knew it, and they closed their eyes."

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Mingas’s faction is one of several groups battling for independence in small but oil-rich Cabinda, a cornerstone of Angola’s economic boom, despite a 2006 peace agreement.

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