Austria arrests Iraqi over 2018 Germany rail sabotage

Vienna (AFP) –


Austria has arrested an Iraqi suspected of committing "terrorist attacks" by sabotaging railway lines in Germany last year, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The 42-year-old man is suspected of having strung a steel rope across the tracks between the southern German cities of Munich and Nuremberg, damaging the front window of a train in October last year.

A similar case occurred in December last year near Berlin when an overhead electrical line was damaged, it said. No one was injured in either incident.

"The planned killing of people was avoided only due to a technical error," a statement by Vienna prosecutors said, adding writings in Arabic and an Islamic State (IS) flag near the crime scenes established a suspected "terrorist" motive.

The man was arrested on Monday "under suspicion to have carried out terrorist attacks on railways in Germany in October and December 2018."

He has admitted involvement in the two incidents, but has denied any terrorist motive for the crimes, which would carry a maximum life-long prison sentence, it said.

Austrian and German authorities worked together leading to Monday's arrest, according to a press release by criminal investigators in Germany's southern state of Bavaria.

Austrian media reported the Iraqi father of five was working at a security company with access to football stadiums.

Germany is on alert following several jihadist attacks in recent years.

The most deadly was committed in 2016 by 23-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri, who killed 12 people when he stole a truck and ploughed it into a Berlin Christmas market.