The Federal Prosecutor General has taken over the investigation into the allegedly politically motivated arsons at railway facilities in Hamburg. The Karlsruhe authorities have been investigating the formation of a criminal organization since Wednesday, a spokesman said on Thursday. “Bild” first reported about it online.

Cable shafts burned at three locations on railway lines in Hamburg on the night of last Friday. The fires were discovered between 2:30 a.m. and 3:40 a.m. The Hamburg police say they believe the fires were started intentionally. The investigators see a political motive as the background for this.

A letter of responsibility appeared on the left-wing platform Indymedia. “On the night of September 7th, we sabotaged arteries of the capitalist infrastructure in Hamburg,” it said. “A few liters of gasoline in the cable shafts on the rails should lead to long-term failures or restrictions in the transport of raw materials procured, for example, in the course of neo-colonial exploitation and earth-destroying extractivism.”

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser had assured that the perpetrators would be identified and railway lines would be better protected. The SPD politician told “Bild am Sonntag” that it was clear not only since this act: “We have to protect our railway infrastructure even better. That’s why we are increasing video surveillance: by next year we will increase the number of cameras on railway systems from 9,000 to 11,000.”

Wissing: “A form of terrorism”

Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) called for consistent action by the rule of law. “Such attacks are a form of terrorism,” said Wissing. “We can only say we are lucky that no one suffered physical harm.”

As a result of the fires, numerous long-distance trains between Hamburg and Berlin were canceled. According to Deutsche Bahn, local transport connections were also affected. A total of 27 trains were completely canceled, 65 trains were partially canceled, and 70 trains had to be rerouted via Uelzen and Hanover and were delayed by around an hour, according to Deutsche Bahn. However, there was no major chaos at the main train stations in Hamburg and Berlin. By Sunday morning, rail traffic between the two cities had returned to normal.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office can prosecute crimes relevant to state security if they are of so-called special importance. For this reason, the Karlsruhe authorities also took over the investigation into the suspected railway sabotage in Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia last October. These are still ongoing, as the spokesman for the German Press Agency said.