Dakar Rally: France begins terrorism probe into blast in Saudi Arabia

The blast struck an assistance lorry coming from the French group Sodicars right after it left its Jeddah hotel for the race path, hurting chauffeur Philippe Boutron, Reuters reported, pointing out accounts from the group and race organizers.

A representative for France’s nationwide anti-terror district attorney’s workplace verified to CNN that they have actually opened an examination into a tried assassination “related to a terrorist enterprise.”

The French Ministry for Foreign Affairs stated that the vehicle’s French chauffeur was “seriously injured,” while the 5 guests, likewise French, were “unharmed.”

Sodicars stated that the chauffeur was repatriated Monday to the Percy Armed Force Medical Facility in Clamart.

“He was immediately taken care of by medical teams, and is in the hands of experts, accompanied by his family. His legs were smashed up by the explosion and he was placed in an artificial coma in order to alleviate his suffering,” Sodicars stated in a declaration launched Tuesday.

Benoit Boutron, sports reporter and child of the injured chauffeur, informed French radio station RMC that his dad runs out the coma.

“It’s quite serious what happened, he’s terribly wounded. The info that I can give you is that he’s out of the coma, so that’s already a first step, and with this type of accident, you’ve got to take things step by step.

“He’s undoubtedly seriously injured in both legs, and we’ll understand more in 10 days approximately. There you go, we have actually got to remain careful at this moment.”

Meanwhile, the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs issued a statement warning that “the terrorist danger continues Saudi Arabia. It is a good idea to work out optimum watchfulness in every day life, particularly when taking a trip.

“An investigation by the Saudi authorities is underway to determine the cause of the explosion. The hypothesis of a criminal act is not ruled out,” the ministry stated in a declaration on January 1.

CNN has actually called Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Media for remark.

“We hope the investigation follows its course, that it progresses well and that they find the people concerned,” Marie-France Estenave, Sodicars representative, informed CNN.

“What we want is the truth. Why? Is it against the rally? Is it against France? We don’t know all that. That’s what we are concerned about.

“We keep our fingers crossed that the examination will be done seriously and in depth,” she said, adding she hoped the investigation would make clear whether the incident was a terror attack.

The Dakar Rally was held in Europe and Africa from 1979 to 2007 but was moved to South America and then the Middle East in 2020 after the 2008 event was canceled following security concerns.

There are traditionally five major vehicle categories in the Dakar Rally: cars, motorbikes, trucks, UTVs and quad bikes.

“Something wasn’t best”

Mayeul Barbet, a colleague of Boutron who was in the car at the time of the incident, told French radio station RMC the team left the hotel as normal to prepare the car.

“We drove 500 meters and after that ‘expand’ a surge. There you go, we do not understand what’s occurring, a huge surge.”

“After the surge, I was adhered to the roofing of the vehicle, so that’s not regular … in a cars and truck mishap, we’re tossed forward, however here I was tossed to the ceiling in truth. So I knew in my head that something wasn’t right,” he said.
”There was quite a confused atmosphere in the vehicle, with airbags deploying… so we get quickly out of the car. But before we get out, Philippe said something to me, he said, ‘Mayeul, you’ve got to get me out.’ So there, I understand that he’s wounded.”

Barbet, who helped Boutron out of the car, said: “I saw that his legs were really hurt, I initially decided to leave him in the car so as not to move him.

“We did a first tourniquet, so that he wouldn’t bleed a lot, and in fact, the car started to catch on fire. So then we decide to get him out, to put him in safety and take care of him.”

Barbet said that when the car’s passengers got out of the car, they assumed they had been in an mishap and looked for another vehicle, however understood “there’s nothing around us. We’re alone in the middle of this road.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.