French anti-terror authority investigating Dakar explosion

Sodicars Racing vehicles. Picture: Sodicars Racing Facebook

French authorities have announced an investigation into the blast which caused leg injuries to one of its nationals before he was to have competed in this year’s Dakar Rally.

Philippe Boutron, who had been entered in a buggy with the Sodicars Racing team, was one of six travelling in a vehicle when it exploded outside Jeddah’s Donatello Hotel on December 30 (local time).

He was operated on in Saudi Arabia and subsequently repatriated to Paris, where he is now in a medically-induced coma, reports Reuters.

Dakar organisers quickly committed to tightening security for the event, while French authorities are now conducting a probe into the incident.

“A preliminary investigation has been opened into multiple attempted killings in connection with a terrorist group,” read a statement from national anti-terror prosecutors.

Rally director David Castera spoke on French television of the possibility of “an act of malice” in the aftermath of the explosion, but local police claimed there was no suspicion of a criminal act.

However, France’s foreign ministry has issued updated advice on Saudi Arabia, which refers directly to the Jeddah hotel blast.

“An appeal for maximum alertness — security risk,” read that advice.

“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,” it also stated.

French authorities confirmed that the other five occupants of the vehicle were also its nationals.

Thankfully, they were unharmed in the incident.

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