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Fires damage German railway line, police suspect political motive

Some tracks at Hamburg Central Station are temporarily empty during various train cancellations and delays in Hamburg, Friday Sept. 8, 2023
Some tracks at Hamburg Central Station are temporarily empty during various train cancellations and delays in Hamburg, Friday Sept. 8, 2023 Copyright Gregor Fischer/(c) Copyright 2023, dpa (www.dpa.de). Alle Rechte vorbehalten
Copyright Gregor Fischer/(c) Copyright 2023, dpa (www.dpa.de). Alle Rechte vorbehalten
By Daniel Bellamy with AP
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A series of fires hit railway infrastructure in the city of Hamburg overnight, causing widespread disruption to trains between Hamburg and Berlin.

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Afterwards Transport Minister Volker Wissing tweeted that "the arson attacks on railway infrastructure in Hamburg are a form of terrorism."

Railway operator Deutsche Bahn said that trains on the main high-speed route between Hamburg and Berlin had been cancelled because of the vandalism. It said it was running some trains on an alternative route that takes up to an hour longer.

Long-distance trains between Hamburg and Rostock were also cancelled. Deutsche Bahn said it would only likely be able to restore service on the main Hamburg-Berlin line only on Saturday morning.

Hamburg police said that cable ducts next to railway lines were set on fire at three locations in the city between 2:30 and 4 a.m. and they suspect that the damage was politically motivated.

They said in a statement that they suspect “a political motive as the background” and are seeking witnesses, but gave no further details of the reasons for their suspicions. The fires were all extinguished.

A claim of responsibility that appeared on a left-wing website said that “transport arteries of the capitalist infrastructure” had been “sabotaged,” but referred to lines used for freight rather than passenger traffic, German news agency dpa reported. Police said they were aware of the claim and it was part of their investigation. It wasn't immediately clear whether the claim was authentic.

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