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Crime

Potential arson attack averted at Berlin's main train station

An attack at Berlin's main train station has been thwarted after workers found an incendiary device before it had a chance to explode. Rail services were disrupted for several hours while the area was made safe.

Berlin main train station

The materials were reportedly found near a train tunnel

Berlin's main train station was evacuated for a time Monday after a train worker found suspicious-looking materials by the track.

Federal police said they found several bottles of flammable liquid that could have been used to carry out an arson attack. The material was discovered some 200 meters (about 650 feet) from the main station building, along with what they called "incendiary objects."

The discovery came hours after an arson attack on the rail line between Berlin and the northern city of Hamburg, which led to major travel delays affecting thousands of passengers. Federal police said the devices used in both incidents were similar in construction.

A spokesperson for Deutsche Bahn, Germany's national rail operator, said train services in Berlin were disrupted for about an hour and a half. Passengers were asked to take detours around the main station.

Political motive

An unknown left-wing extremist group, Hekla, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had acted in protest against the German military's deployment in Afghanistan. In an online posting, Hekla said the attacks were designed to force Berlin to take a pause. Police said they were examining the authenticity of the claim.

Gerd Neubeck, head of security for Deutsche Bahn, condemned the attacks, saying customers "were being made to pay the price for the German military’s Afghanistan mission," calling it "absolutely reckless."

Neubeck said it was impossible to fully ensure that Germany's entire rail network was protected against "extremist violence," but he noted that the company had tightened security since attacks in the Berlin area in the spring.

Author: Gabriel Borrud, Joanna Impey (AFP, dpa, dapd)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

DW.DE