Africa Cup of Nations 2012: Police use tear gas on crowd at opening match

Police fire tear gas on crowd after crush at opening match of Africa Cup of Nations

Thousands of fans forced their way into the Bata Stadium complex for Saturday's opening match of the African Cup of Nations, prompting police to use tear gas.

Police tried to check fans' tickets one-by-one at the main gate to the complex ahead of Equatorial Guinea's match against Libya. But several times the crush proved too much and the gates were opened to allow scores of supporters through without being checked.

On at least one occasion, tear gas was used on the crowd.

Gas mask: A member of Equatorial Guinea's police force after tear gas was fired at the crowd

Gas mask: A member of Equatorial Guinea's police force after tear gas was fired at the crowd

Taking action: A member of the Equatorial Guinea police force fires tear gas at fans

Taking action: A member of the Equatorial Guinea police force fires tear gas at fans

The gate opens onto a road leading to the stadium proper. In theory, fans will still need a ticket to get inside. As the crush threatened a potential disaster, Israeli security advisers ordered the gates to be opened.

Earlier, it appeared security forces had the situation in hand. Police had set up roadblocks within a few kilometres in all directions from the stadium approach, while all vehicles entering the stadium complex had to pass through a giant metal detector.

Standing guard: Police attempt to stop fans forcing their way into the stadium

Standing guard: Police attempt to stop fans forcing their way into the stadium

Breach: But the authorities were unable to stop thousands of fans forcing entry

Breach: But the authorities were unable to stop thousands of fans forcing entry

Rifle-toting guards wearing all-over body armor were frisking fans. Inside the complex, a police canine patrol was at the ready, along with armored vehicles with heavy-calibre gun turrets.

Despite the security presence, fans seemed to be enjoying the pre-match atmosphere, blowing vuvuzelas and waving national flags as they streamed towards the 37,500-capacity venue.

Hot ticket: Fans flocked to the Estadio de Bata in Equatorial Guinea for the opening match

Hot ticket: Fans flocked to the Estadio de Bata in Equatorial Guinea for the opening match

Big game: Supporters flood in to see Equatorial Guinea play Libya in the first match of the tournament

Big game: Supporters flood in to see Equatorial Guinea play Libya in the first match of the tournament

Festival of football: Equatorial Guinea supporters cheer in the stands ahead of the match

Festival of football: Equatorial Guinea supporters cheer in the stands ahead of the match

Football fever: Fans cheer as they ride on a military vehicle towards the Estadio de Bata

Football fever: Fans cheer as they ride on a military vehicle towards the Estadio de Bata