Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Will the real Europe to Africa road rally please stand up?

It’s hard to keep a good road rally down. The Budapest-Bamako, Trans-Saharan Rally will begin as planned this weekend. The story is not the same for the Paris-Dakar rally, which was cancelled due to security concerns.

From PR Web:

The capital of Hungary will host the starting ceremonies of the third annual Budapest-Bamako, Great African Run on January 12, 2008. The 148 cars, motorcycles, trucks and buses will have to travel 8896 kilometers from Budapest before they reach the capital of Mali.

This year's event has a tense start due to security concerns in Mauritania. The 2008 Budapest-Bamako will spend 5 days in the troubled North African country. "The Bamako will go ahead as planned, however we have asked all participants to carefully evaluate the security situation before Saturday," said Andrew G. Szabo director of the event.

The event is a zero assistance, extreme endurance rally where teams have to rely on their own resources in case of emergencies. The event was originally created for those who have always dreamt of joining the Dakar, but never had the proper funding. The Budapest-Bamako offers all the thrills and spills of a true African driving adventure.

Speaking of those security concerns, a few weeks after four French tourists were shot in Mauritania, and a subsequent warning from Western governments to avoid the country, tourism is back on the front burner (so to speak).

From Afriquenligne:

Despite the threat of terrorism in Mauritania and the travel warning issued to their citizens by some countries, including France, tourists have continued to flock to the country, official sources told PANA here Monday.

"A group comprising 111 tourists arrived in the Adrar region in the country on Monday and another one was expected (later in the day),'' Crafts and Tourism Minister Ba Madine told the Parliament.

Finally, nine people appeared in a Mauritanian court in connection with the killing of four French tourists, the BBC reports.

Prosecutors in Mauritania alleged the suspects are linked to a group allied to al-Qaeda.

The tourists - apparently members of the same family - were shot by gunmen as they stopped for a roadside picnic.

A fifth person, said to be the father of the family, survived and has been transferred to Senegal for treatment.

The victims were initially reported to have been robbed, though the interior ministry now says they were not, the Associated Press news agency reports.

In their statement, prosecutors in Nouakchott said murder suspects were thought to belong to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb - a group formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.

No comments: