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Amtrak train stopped in Western Md.

(The Associated Press circulated the following story on June 6.)

CUMBERLAND, Md. -- An Amtrak train on its way to Washington was stopped Sunday in western Maryland after someone reported suspicious men on board, officials said.

Barry Maddox, a spokesman with the FBI's Baltimore field office, said members of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force were investigating reports of "suspicious males of Middle Eastern descent." But Maddox said the exact number of suspicious men was unclear and details were sketchy.

About 200 people were ordered off train number 30, while police brought dogs to search the train, which was diverted to a CSX yard in Cumberland, said Amtrak spokesman Dan Stessel.

The train left Chicago on Saturday night, Stessel said, and was stopped shortly before noon Sunday.

Amtrak requested that buses be brought to Cumberland and said passengers would be taken to their destinations. Stessel said passengers were only allowed to take medication off the train; everything else would be released once the investigation was over.

Cumberland police declined to answer questions about the incident; state police officials had no immediate information.

Stessel said it was unclear whether passengers or staff reported the men, or what the men were doing to make them appear suspicious.

He said police knew who the men were, but had no other details.

Stessel said trains are stopped because of similar reports about once a week. After an anonymous threat, Amtrak police stopped and searched three trains in Maryland in late May, including two Acela Express high-speed trains traveling from New York to Washington. Stessel said nothing unusual was found on those trains.

Monday, June 7, 2004

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