Man-hunt traps rail blackmailers

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GERMAN TRAIN passengers breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as police announced the capture of two blackmailers who had tried to hold the national railway company to ransom by sabotaging the tracks.

After an unprecedented man-hunt involving Tornado jets, military satellites and hundreds of troops, anti-terrorist units seized one of the extortionists at a Bavarian service station. The suspect, a 46-year-old man from eastern Germany, had turned up to collect a DM10m (pounds 3.7m) ransom.

Investigators say he confessed to three attacks last week on rail lines running from Berlin. The extortionists, calling themselves "Friends of the Railways", had placed obstacles on the track. A Swedish freight train was derailed, but no one was hurt. After his capture on Tuesday, the man said he had placed bombs in several railway stations. No bomb was found.

Yesterday morning, a second man was arrested. Police say one of the two held a grudge against the railway company.