German police authenticate letter from group claiming responsibility for Tesla arson

Credit: REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

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FRANKFURT, March 6 (Reuters) - German police believe a letter by a far-left group claiming responsibility for an arson attack that forced Tesla's European Gigafactory to shut down is authentic, a spokesperson for police in the state of Brandenburg said on Wednesday.

Local media had on Tuesday published a 2,500 word letter purportedly from an organisation called the Volcano Group that claimed responsibility for starting a fire that conked out electricity around the Tesla site near the capital Berlin.

The factory has halted work until further notice in an outage that the U.S. electric vehicle manufacturer estimates will cause losses in the high hundred of millions of euros, with 1,000 vehicles left unfinished on Tuesday alone.

The Tesla plant has been the focus of climate protesters who oppose the planned expansion of the site. Tesla's CEO Elon Musk called the suspected arson attack "extremely dumb" and counterproductive.

In a 2019 report, Berlin authorities listed Vulkangruppen, or volcano groups, as left-wing extremist organisations who have targeted cable ducts on railway lines and in some cases radio masts, data lines or company vehicles.

Tuesday's suspected arson has put scrutiny on Germany's ability to protect critical infrastructure at a time when the government has championed big-ticket foreign investments to spur growth in Europe's largest economy, which is facing recession.

(Reporting by Philipp Krach; writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Madeline Chambers)


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