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Man arrested over German rail ‘sabotage’

Picture taken on March 20, 2020 shows the Teisstal bridge with the high-speed rail line (ICE) tracks over the valley near Niedernhausen, western Germany. – German police said they could not rule out a “possible attack attempt” on a busy high-speed rail line between western cities Cologne and Frankfurt, after finding bolts holding the rails in place had been loosened. “Bolts had been loosened along a stretch around 80 metres (yards) long,” prompting the immediate closure of the line, police in Wiesbaden said in a statement. (Photo by Andreas Arnold / dpa / AFP) / Germany OUT

German prosecutors said Saturday police had arrested a 51-year-old man on suspicion of loosening the bolts on a stretch of the busy high-speed rail line between western cities Cologne and Frankfurt.

The German man faces charges of attempted murder, as he is “strongly suspected of having removed bolts on 80 metres (260 feet) of the rail on a bridge between Cologne and Frankfurt,” said prosecutors in a statement.

Investigators were still trying to determine the suspect’s motives.

Police on Friday said they could not rule out a “possible attack attempt” after uncovering the problem on the rail.

State-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn had described the incident as “sabotage”.

A high-speed Intercity-Express (ICE) train driver noticed something unusual in the early hours while crossing a bridge near Niedernhausen, just outside Frankfurt.

Several trains had already passed over the damaged section of track before the tampering was uncovered, police said on Friday.

“Luckily no harm came to any trains or passengers,” they added.

News website Der Spiegel reported that the rails were standing five centimetres (two inches) further apart than usual along the section where the bolts had been loosened.

This could have derailed further trains passing along the line, it added, sending them plunging off the bridge.

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