A 10-year-old girl in western Mali became...

A 10-year-old girl in western Mali became the third person killed in the Paris-Dakar rally after being hit by a car competing in the 18th stage of the race.

The leader of the rally was disqualified from the event after finding his stolen car in a garbage dump and gamely battling past 60 rivals to make up for lost time.

Ari Vatanen's Peugeot 405 was stolen from his team compound an hour before the start of Monday's stage and thieves demanded a $90,000 ransom for its return. A spokesman for Peugeot said no ransom was paid.

The car was found on a garbage dump four hours later, and Vatanen was allowed to start at the back of the field. He finished eighth.

But race organizers later eliminated him for not being on the starting grid half an hour before he was due to set off on the 317-mile Bamako-Kayes stage, as the rules require.

Peugeot team chief Jean Todt said the organizers had reneged on a promise to allow Vatanen to stay in the race if the stolen car was recovered within a reasonable time.

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