Dakar Rally blast triggers terrorism probe
Prosecutors are investigating an explosion at the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia that went off under a vehicle carrying five French nationals.
The blast occurred on December 30 in Jeddah, according to officials, and the target was a support vehicle used by the French rally team SodiCars Racing. One person – driver Philippe Boutron – received serious leg injuries from the explosion. He was hospitalized and is now in a medically induced coma at Percy Military Hospital.
France’s national anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office will be focusing their investigation on an “attempted murder in relation to a terrorist enterprise.”
According to other team members’ accounts, the blast went off underneath the driver’s side of the car and then the vehicle caught fire. The team was reportedly heading out from their hotel to work, preparing for a New Year’s Day start to the annual race.
“The car started to catch fire and Philippe asked me to help him get out of the seat,” driver Mayeul Barbet said.
The Dakar Rally race, formerly known as the Paris-Dakar Rally, was held in Saudi Arabia for the first time last year.