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Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, 23:31 GMT
Dakar Rally waits for airlift

Two giant transport planes are on route to Niger to airlift drivers, vehicles and support teams taking part in the Dakar motor rally after a terrorist threat warning from the French government caused the next leg of the race to be closed.

More than three hundred vehicles, along with more than one thousand-three hundred people are waiting at Niamey airport for the airlift to begin later today Thursday.

They will be taken across the Tenere desert to Libya, where the race will be restarted next week.

The annual rally began in Senegal last Thursday. The Niger foreign minister, Nasiru Sabo, has reacted angrily to the diversion, which he described as part of a plot to tarnish the image of the country.

He told the BBC that everything had been done to make the route safe and ensure that the rally proceeded smoothly.

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