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Old 4 Jan 2008
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Dakar Cancelled

Just got the heads up from MacP1 - mentioned already in the Dakar route forum but I thought a new thread would save confusion.

From BBC Sport

BBC SPORT | Motorsport | Rallying | Safety concerns end Dakar Rally
Safety concerns end Dakar Rally

Peterhansel claimed victory in the Dakar Rally last year
The 2008 Dakar Rally has been cancelled because of safety concerns in the African republic of Mauritania.
Four French tourists were murdered in Mauritania on 24 December, which led to the French government advising against any travel to the country.

Nine of the rally's stages were due to pass through Mauritania.

The annual car and motorcycle marathon had been due to start in Lisbon on 5 January with the finish coming in Dakar on 20 January.

The head of sport for France Televisions, the organisation that was due to broadcast the event, confirmed the cancellation.

"If the slightest incident had happened, it would have been the credibility of the Amaury Sport Organisation (organisers) that would have been at stake," said Daniel Bilalian.

Full story to follow.
Nothing on any of the official channels yet - I just can't believe it. It'll probably get more mainstream media headline s for being cancelled than if it had gone ahead.

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Old 4 Jan 2008
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It's confirmed:
Euromilhões Lisboa - Dakar: homepage
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Old 14 Jan 2008
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Suspects Captured

Suspected French tourist killers questioned in Mauritania
2 hours ago

NOUAKCHOTT (AFP) — Two Mauritanian suspects and three alleged accomplices arrested in Guinea-Bissau for the December murders of four French tourists have been placed in custody, a legal source said Monday.

"They have been in detention since Saturday evening," said the source, who asked not to be named but added that the law provided for up to 15 days custody for offences "related to terrorism, serious crime and state security."

Two of the three suspected killers were extradited on Saturday, along with three other Mauritanians arrested early Friday by police in Bissau, after a manhunt extending over several west African countries, aided by French intelligence services.

They have been questioned in Mauritania by a state security and terrorism panel and will be referred to the state prosecutor to be charged when police have finished their preliminary inquiries, a source in the prosecutor's office said.

Police manhunts for the three men believed to have carried out the December 24 attack in Mauritania's southern Aleg region, in which four French people were shot dead and a fifth wounded, led to the capture of the two in Guinea-Bissau's capital, but the third is still at large.

Guinea-Bissau investigators said the two men arrested confessed to having fired on the French adventure tourists, and expressed "no remorse" at having killed "infidels and American allies".

One of the murder suspects, Sidi Ould Sidna, told journalists just before boarding a military flight from Bissau to Nouakchot that "Guinea-Bissau will pay dearly for having mistreated God's fighters".

A special Mauritanian police commission is probing Al-Qaeda links, but the authorities have issued no official comment on progress and the two men, plus the three accused of helping them, are being detained in secret.

Both murder suspects had previously been arrested in connection with the extremist Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which in January 2007 affiliated itself with Al-Qaeda.

Ould Sidna, born in 1987 in Nouakchott, was acquitted in July 2007 of charges relating to the recruitment of young Mauritanians to fight in Al-Qaeda's name in Somalia, police said.

Ould Sidi Chabarnou, born in 1981 also in Nouakchott, has been arrested several times without ever standing trial.

The three alleged accomplices were arrested on Friday evening in Bissau as they "filmed French (security) officers," Guinea-Bissau's deputy director of police, Edmundo Mendes, told AFP at the weekend.

"These arrests are the result of a vast operation led by teams from our overseas security force," said a French security official.

For several years now, French intelligence agents in the region have sent regular bulletins to Paris on the former GSPC's activities.

Eight other Mauritanians suspected of having helped the killers and who were arrested soon after the probe began in Aleg were also still in detention on Monday, a source close to the inquiry said.

The Al-Qaeda-linked group is said to count some 500 armed men, 400 of whom are active in Algeria with another 100 located in the Saharan desert zone between Mauritania, Mali and Niger.

The roadside killing and an attack on a military base in north Mauritania two days later, which left three soldiers dead, led to the cancellation of the Dakar 2008 motor rally across the Sahara.

The Al-Qaeda-affiliated group claimed responsibility for the attacks on Mauritanian troops.
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