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Poland investigates train mishaps for possible Russian connection

Polish authorities are investigating a series of sabotage attacks that brought dozens of trains to a standstill over the weekend amid heightened concerns about Russian attempts to disrupt the country.

The trains were affected by several incidents between Friday night and Sunday involving the unauthorized use of an emergency stop signal, according to Polish rail authorities.

Saboteurs exploited the vulnerability in the Polish “radio stop” command system, which automatically brings trains to a stop when three tonal signals are broadcast through the railway’s radio network.

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Poland has already ramped up security on its railway lines after foiling a plot by Russian intelligence to monitor railway networks and derail a train carrying weapons for Ukraine. Around 80 percent of Western arms deliveries to Kyiv pass through Poland, making it the most crucial transit hub for logistical support.

The first erroneous signaling took place at 9:23 p.m. on Friday on two sections of line near the northwestern Polish city of Szczecin when the signal was broadcast by “radiotelephone by an unknown perpetrator,” Polish railway infrastructure manager PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe said. More than 20 trains were impacted, and freight traffic was halted as a precaution.

A second incident took place on Saturday around 6 p.m. near the port of Gdynia, according to the Polish Press Agency, PAP. A freight train was stopped by the emergency signal later that evening. On Sunday morning trains were affected in the vicinity of Bialystok, near Poland’s border with Belarus.

Polish officials said that the disruptions are being investigated by police and intelligence authorities. “We know that for some months there have been attempts to destabilize the Polish state,” Stanislaw Zaryn, a senior security official, told PAP. “Such attempts have been undertaken by the Russian Federation in conjunction with Belarus.”

It came after a freight train collision and a derailment last week, which officials have said they are investigating but have so far refrained from linking to any disruption efforts. On Monday two people were arrested in connection with the incidents.

Poland’s domestic intelligence agency is also investigating a mysterious outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Polish city of Rzeszow, a major logistical hub for weapons deliveries and a base for U.S. forces. The outbreak of the lung infection that comes from inhaling infected water droplets has killed 11 people and infected more than 100. Water supplies are being tested, and Zaryn said authorities are looking into whether there may have been any tampering with supplies.

Critics of Poland’s populist government have accused it of ramping up a fear campaign ahead of crucial elections this fall.

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