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Friday, August 25, 2006

Unclear if German train bombers part of global network: police

BERLIN (Reuters) - Two Lebanese men suspected of planting bombs on two German trains had accomplices in Germany, but it is too early to say if they belonged to an international network, federal police chief Joerg Ziercke said on Friday.

The bombs, hidden last month in suitcases and made with propane gas tanks and crude detonating devices, failed to go off and were discovered on trains in the cities of Dortmund and Koblenz.

"We assume that this concerns a terrorist group here in Germany, which is also the view of the federal prosecutors," Ziercke said in an interview on Germany's n-tv television.

"We know that the suspects had accomplices. At the moment we're trying to determine whether this was an international network or if it was an autonomous terrorist group in Germany."

One of the two Lebanese suspects was arrested last weekend. The second turned himself in to Lebanese authorities in Lebanon on Thursday and Berlin hopes he will be extradited to Germany.

The two men were identified on security cameras footage dragging the suitcase bombs onto trains in Cologne.

In an interview with Reuters at the federal police headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany, Ziercke said he expected to get more information in the course of the day.

"Measures are being taken in Germany right now and I expect that we'll get more information today about helpers and people who knew about the plan of the two suspects," Ziercke said.

"On Thursday we secured a number of clues and interviewed witnesses," he said, without elaborating.

The suspect held in Lebanon has been identified as 20-year-old Jihad Hamad.

The suspect's father Shaheed Hamad, a retired Lebanese army soldier, told Reuters in Tripoli he had turned his son in after hearing he was a suspect but could not believe he was part of the bombing plot.

The other is a 21-year-old Lebanese man, Youssef Mohamad E.H., who was arrested in the northern German city of Kiel on Saturday as he was apparently trying to flee the country.

Both men had been living in Germany and initially fled to Lebanon shortly after planting the bombs on July 31, police say. Youssef Mohamad E.H. returned while Hamad remained in Lebanon.
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