State-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn confirmed the sabotage on cables vital for train traffic. The operator added that long-distance trains in the country’s north came to a total standstill for nearly three hours.
Domestic routes affected include those coming to and from Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony in the direction of Kassel-Wilhelmshohe, Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). High-speed intercity express trains along Berlin, Hanover and NRW were impacted as well.
International train routes were also affected by the attack, with trips to and from Berlin via Amsterdam being completely canceled. Meanwhile, trains to Denmark that would typically reach the cities of Copenhagen and Aarhus were forced to start and end in the southern Danish city of Padborg.
Countless travelers in the region were left stranded at railway stations as queues built up rapidly along mainline stations, including Berlin and Hanover. Departure boards also showed many other services being delayed or canceled.
Deutsche Bahn initially blamed a technical malfunction for the standstill. However, it said hours later that malicious activity brought down the rail network, alerting security authorities to get involved.
Der Spiegel magazine was more specific, saying that the sabotage involved Deutsche Bahn communication network cables being severed in two places.
Federal police have started investigating the incident, according to Interior and Community Minister Nancy Faeser. However, the motive for the sabotage remained unclear. (Related: 10 Ways Russia can respond to the pipeline destruction: A 100′ tsunami awaits US cities via Putin’s underwater drone nukes.)
Omid Nouripour, leader of the Greens Party in the German parliament, said anyone who attacked the country’s critical infrastructure would receive a “decisive response.” He tweeted: “We will not be intimidated.
Acts of sabotage affecting Germany, other EU countries
The disruption of Deutsche Bahn’s operations in northern Germany followed news of sabotage at the Nord Stream gas pipelines. The pipelines that ran under the Baltic Sea and provided Russian natural gas to the rest of Europe were blown up, leading the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to remind their respective member nations of the importance of securing critical infrastructure against other potential attacks.
There had been growing fears about assaults on Germany’s critical infrastructure even before the sabotage. Transport Minister Volker Wissing said it was “clear that this was a targeted and malicious action.”
German authorities said they were looking into suspicions of deliberate sabotage, and investigators said they have not ruled out interference with a political motive. State investigators in Berlin later said there were no signs of involvement by a foreign state nor terrorism in the attack.
Following this, the federal police handed the investigation over to Berlin and NRW state criminal police bureaus.
Lawmaker Anton Hofreiter of the Green Party told the press that disrupting the railway network’s communication cables would require “very precise knowledge of the railway’s radio system.”
Maj. Gen. Carsten Breuer of the German Bundeswehr – the country’s armed forces – said every substation, every power plant and every pipeline could be possible targets of attacks, especially as the current state of affairs was “not quite peace anymore, but not really war either.”
Breuer also said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine showed that war was possible on the European continent again, adding that his team was preparing primarily for hybrid threats that combine both military and non-military activities.
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Watch the video below for more information on the possible sabotage of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
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