Terror Threat Cancels Dakar Stage
NIAMEY, Niger (AP) _ The seventh stage of the Dakar Rally has been canceled because of concerns over terrorism in Niger, the race’s Paris-based organizer said Tuesday.
The organizers, TSO, said in a statement that the French government believes there is ``a serious risk of an external terrorist attack″ on the race while it is passing through Niger on Wednesday.
``As the safety of all the people on the rally is the absolute priority of the organizers, the rally will not leave from Niamey tomorrow morning,″ TSO said. ``The possibility of an air lift to avoid the area considered to be at risk is currently being evaluated.″
The next three stages of the race are scheduled to take place in Niger.
Carlos Sousa won the sixth stage Tuesday, his second triumph of the race.
In Tuesday’s race, competitors drove through forest before moving onto long, arid stretches of terrain and the first signs of desert.
Sousa, driving a Mitsubishi, completed the 424-mile course between Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, and Niamey, in 5 hours, 46 minutes, 2 seconds.
Driving with countryman Joao Manuel Luz, he was nearly two minutes ahead of the French pair of Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret.
The race, which began last Thursday in Dakar, Senegal, covers some of the most rugged territory in Africa before ending Jan. 23 in Cairo.
So far, 400 of the 407 vehicles are still in the race.