Dakar Rally Incident May Have Been Terror Attack, French Foreign Minister Says
07:37 GMT 07.01.2022 (Updated: 08:03 GMT 07.01.2022)
On Tuesday, French prosecutors opened a terror probe over a 30 December explosion in Saudi Arabia targeting a car participating in the Dakar Rally that left a French driver gravely injured.
The Dakar Rally incident may have been a terror attack, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday, calling on Saudi Arabia to be "transparent".
"There may have been a terrorist attack against the Dakar Tally", Le Drian told BFM TV and RMC Radio on Friday.
French prosecutors have already opened a terrorism investigation into a blast in Saudi Arabia on 30 December that badly wounded a French driver in the Dakar Rally.
"A preliminary investigation has been opened into multiple attempted killings in connection with a terrorist group", French anti-terror prosecutors said in a statement on Tuesday.
The explosion damaged a support vehicle for the Sodicars Racing team soon after it left the Donatello Hotel, near Jeddah's international airport, for the race route, according to rally organiser ASO. The driver, Philippe Boutron, suffered grave leg injuries. He was flown to France and placed in a medically-induced coma. By Thursday morning, the 61-year-old had emerged from the coma, his son Benoît said
"He is indeed seriously injured, on both legs, we will know more in 10 days, but we must remain cautious at this stage", he told Radio Monte Carlo.
The organisers of the rally said that the incident was not related to racing, while Saudi authorities stated there was no criminal suspicion over the blast. However, shortly thereafter the French Foreign Ministry issued a contradictory statement, claiming that "an investigation by Saudi authorities is underway to determine the cause of this explosion. The possibility of a criminal act has not been ruled out".