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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 23 February, 2020

1980s West German militants reappear 'to rob cash for retirement'

Red Army Faction disbanded in the late 1990s.

photo158120965215203900 Source: Bundeskriminalamt

GERMAN AUTHORITIES ARE hunting three veteran far-left militants who they say attacked money vans with automatic weapons and a grenade-launcher, apparently seeking to finance their retirements on the run.

Police found DNA matching that of the fugitives of the disbanded Red Army Faction (RAF) at the scene of a botched armed robbery last June, and prosecutors also linked the three to a similar attack last December.

Two men and one woman have been wanted for decades as members of the anti-capitalist RAF, also known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang, which rocked mostlyGermany with a wave of bombings, killings and kidnappings targeting political and business leaders from the 1970s continuing after the fall of the Berlin Wall into the early 1990s.

The three suspects — Ernst-Volker Staub (61), Burkhard Garweg (47), and Daniela Klette (57) — were also chief suspects in a 1999 money transporter heist in the western city of Duisburg which netted more than one million Deutschmarks, or about €500,000.

Last year, according to prosecutors, they were apparently at it again, starting with a failed robbery on 6 June.

In the attack, three masked assailants armed with two AK-47s and a grenade-launcher opened fire on a money van near the northern city of Bremen.

Police said the attackers used a vehicle to block the security van that was carrying about one million euros and may have used a jamming device to disable the mobile phone communications of the two guards.

The assailants fled without any cash when the security guards locked themselves inside the armoured vehicle, and no one was injured.

‘Underground lives’

“There is no evidence to suggest… a terrorist background,” said the Lower Saxony state prosecutors about the June attack.

Rather it must be presumed the crime aimed to help finance their underground lives.

There was also “suspicion because of fresh results of investigations” that the three were involved in a third attack on a cash transporter, last 28 December in the central city of Wolfsburg, said federal prosecutors in Karlsruhe.

Germany Red Faction In this April 7, 1997 file photo the bodies of West German Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback, left, and his driver Wolfgang Goebel, right, lie covered on the street after by assassinated by members of RAF Source: Associated Press

“There are parallels in the execution of the crime and the evidence,” Wolfsburg prosecution spokesman Klaus Ziehe told AFP, adding that DNA checks were ongoing.

The three are among a wider group of fugitives still on the run for membership of the RAF, which emerged out of the radicalised fringe of the 1960s student protest movement.

The group, which had links to Middle Eastern militant organisations, declared itself disbanded in 1998.

GERMANY RED ARMY FACTION A file photo dated Sept. 5, 1977 shows the crime scene in Cologne, Germany, where German industrialists chairman Hanns-Martin Schleyer was kidnapped by members of RAF Source: AP-Photo/Heinz Ducklau

Staub, Garweg and Klette, alleged member’s of the RAF’s so-called “third generation”, have long been wanted as chief suspect in a 1993 explosives attack against a prison under construction in Hesse state.

In the attack, five RAF members climbed the prison walls, tied up and took away the guards in a van, then returned to set off explosions that caused about 600,000 euros worth of property damage, said prosecutors.

Klette is also a suspect in two previous RAF operations, prosecutors said — a 1990 failed car bomb attack against a Deutsche Bank building near Frankfurt, and a 1991 attack in which a gunman fired at least 250 shots at the former US embassy in Bonn, without causing any casualties.

© – AFP 2016.

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