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Terror cell allegedly behind failed attacks

March 30, 2019

Austrian authorities say an alleged Iraqi terror "cell" planned and carried out attacks on German train lines. Investigators now believe there may have been more than two attempts to derail trains.

ICE train
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Karmann

An Iraqi man accused of attempting to derail high-speed trains in Germany may have carried out more attacks than previously thought, investigators said Friday.

The investigation into the alleged terror attacks is widening after the 42-year-old Iraqi and his wife were arrested in the Austrian capital, Vienna, on Monday, followed by two more Iraqis arrested in the Czech Republic on Thursday.

Read more: Terrorism deaths down, but still a widespread issue

The main suspect in custody in Vienna is accused of placing steel wires across the tracks of the high-speed rail lines between Nuremberg and Munich in October and in Berlin in December. Nobody was injured in the attempts to derail the trains.

Additional incidents under investigation

In a new development on Friday, authorities in the southern German state of Bavaria said they were now investigating two additional attempts to derail trains on the Nuremberg-Munich line around Allersberg using wood and steel wedges placed onto the tracks, dpa news agency reported.

"We assume that there were three incidents at different times at the same site," a spokesperson from the Bavarian state criminal office told dpa, referring to Allersberg.

The spokesperson said the attempts to derail the trains failed due to the faulty construction design of the wedges placed on the tracks.

In a separate development, Der Spiegel magazine reported that Austrian authorities discovered night vision goggles and a drone at the Vienna residence of the Iraqi man.

Suspected terror cell

The man detained in Vienna has admitted to carrying out the attacks, but he has denied any terrorist motive. His wife has denied involvement.

Austrian authorities say an "Islamic State" flag and Arabic writings found near the scene of the attacks indicate a suspected terrorist motive.

Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl said Thursday that the two suspects detained in Prague "formed a cell" with the man detained in Vienna. A Czech court has ordered the terror suspects to be extradited to Austria.

cw/aw (dpa)

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