December 3, 2022

'Malicious and targeted' sabotage halts trains in northern Germany

‘Malicious and targeted’ sabotage halts trains in northern Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) – Vital cables of the rail network were deliberately cut in two places, causing a nearly three-hour shutdown of all rail traffic in northern Germany on Saturday morning in what authorities called an act of sabotage, without specifying who it might be. Be responsible.

Interior Minister Nancy Visser said the Federal Police was investigating the incident, adding that the motive was not clear.

The turmoil raised alarm bells after NATO and the European Union stressed last month the need to protect critical infrastructure after what they described as acts of sabotage on Nord Stream gas pipelines.

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“This is clearly a targeted and malicious act,” Transport Minister Volker Wessing told a news conference.

A security source said there were a variety of potential causes, ranging from cable theft – which is a frequent occurrence – to a targeted attack.

Omid Nouripur, leader of the Green Party, which is part of Chancellor Olaf Schulz’s federal coalition, said anyone who attacks the country’s critical infrastructure will get a “decisive response”.

“We will not be afraid,” he wrote on Twitter.

Chaos before election day

“Due to the sabotage of cables indispensable to rail traffic, Deutsche Bahn was forced to halt rail traffic in the north this morning for about three hours,” the railway operator said in a statement.

Deutsche Bahn (DB) earlier blamed the network failure on a technical problem with wireless communications. Spiegel magazine said the communications system was down around 6:40 am (0440 GMT). At 11:06 a.m., DB tweeted that traffic had been restored, but warned that train cancellations and delays continued.

The interruption affected rail services across Lower Saxony and Schlossig-Holstein as well as Bremen and Hamburg, significantly affecting international rail travel to Denmark and the Netherlands.

They came the day before a state election in Lower Saxony where Schulz’s Social Democrats are on track to retain power and the Greens are seen doubling their share of the vote, according to opinion polls.

Queues were quickly built up at major stations including Berlin and Hanover as departure boards showed many services were postponed or canceled.

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Reporting by Sarah Marsh. Additional reporting by Andreas Rink and Christian Rutger. Editing by David Holmes and Mark Potter

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