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Dakar Rally Canceled Due to Terrorism Threats

The annual Dakar Rally, which was due to begin in Lisbon on Saturday, has been canceled because of safety concerns.

Nine of the motor rally's stages were to pass through Mauritania where four French tourists were murdered on December 24th. The attack was blamed on a terror group with links to al-Qaida, and the French government advised against any travel to the country.

Daniel Bilalian of France-Televisions, a TV partner of the endurance rally, told Europe-1 radio that "wisdom had prevailed," and the Dakar Rally had been called off.

The event is organized by the French-based Amaury Sport Organization (ASO). The multi-stage rally featuring cars and motorcycles was to have run until January 20th, with the finish in Dakar, Senegal.

This is the first time in the race's 30-year history that it has been canceled. In the past, only stages have been called off. Mali had already been excluded from the rally for security reasons.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP.