Hungary’s anti-terror agency urged organizers to cancel the annual Budapest-Bamako car rally even after the Mali capital was abandoned as the race’s destination, citing fighting in the region and the threat of kidnappings.
Organizers changed the rally’s finish line to Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau. Still, participants risk being “kidnapped or may have to pay with their lives for their irresponsible decision” to join the race, the Anti-Terrorism Center in Budapest said in a statement, MTI state news service reported today.
The 16-day race, which organizers describe as a “dangerous, minimal-assistance adventure” where “everything is uncertain,” will take participants through an 8,682-kilometer (5,396 miles) trek through Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal before reaching Bissau on Feb. 14, according to the race’s website.
French and Malian forces have been fighting rebels, mainly militants seeking to impose a strict version of Islamic law, after they moved toward the capital. Neighboring West African nations have sent troops to join the battle against the insurgents who control the north of Mali.
Instability has spread to other states in the region. Gunmen linked to al-Qaeda attacked a fortified Algerian gas plant partly run by BP Plc near the Libyan border on Jan. 16, leading to a four-day siege that resulted in the deaths of at least 38 foreign hostages and 32 militants.
The Budapest-Bamako race, dubbed a low-budget version of the Paris-Dakar rally, will feature cars including the former east German communist fixture, the Trabant, as well as a fire truck, according to the race’s website.