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The annual truck, automobile and bike Dakar Rally scheduled to start
The annual truck, automobile and bike Dakar Rally scheduled to start Saturday has been canceled for security reasons, the event organizers said Friday.

Eight out of 15 stages of the 30th Dakar Rally were to take place in Mauritania, where a French family of four were shot dead pointblank in December 2007 by criminals possibly linked to Al Qaeda. There had also been threats from Islamist terrorist organizations against this year's event.

The 6,000-kilometer off-road race, organized by the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) based in France, and supposed to involve about 600 trucks, cars and motorbikes, had been scheduled to start in Lisbon, Portugal, January 5 and end in Dakar, Senegal, January 20.

The Dakar Rally, formerly known as the Paris-Dakar Rally, has been held since 1979. In the past, some stages had been canceled for security reasons, but the whole event has never been called off.

The organizational committee said the cancellation does not mean the rally won't be held in 2009, and promised to take all measures to work out another route for next year's race.

Russia's team Kamaz-master won the Dakar Rally in the truck category seven times - in 1996, 2000, and 2002-2006, and took second place in 2007.


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