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German police reportedly search houses in hunt for former RAF terrorist group members

Police searching for three members of the disbanded Red Army Faction terrorist group have reportedly carried out house searches in Saarland. The trio are wanted in connection with two attempted armed robberies.

German newspaper "Die Welt am Sonntag" reported on Sunday that the searches took place in the Germany's western Saarland region.

A team of around 100 criminal investigators and police officers from the state of Lower Saxony are currently hunting Ernst-Volker Wilhelm Staub, Daniela Klette and Burkhard Garweg (pictured above, left to right).

As a result of DNA testing, all three former members of the disbanded Red Army Faction (RAF) are wanted on suspicion of two attempted armed robberies on armored vehicles near Bremen in summer 2015. The perpetrators were forced to leave without their loot on both occasions.

Authorities also suspect that the trio robbed an armored car using automatic rifles and an anti-tank weapon in 1999, stealing more than 1 million Deutschmarks (about 500,000 euros or $545,000).

'Targeted searches'

Since broadcasting a new e-fit photo of the suspects on German television, authorities have received 175 calls from members of the public regarding their whereabouts.

A spokeswoman for the State Attorney in Lower Saxony (LKA) said that "targeted searches" had been carried out in connection with the case.

However, district attorney Lutz Gaebel told the DPA news agency he had "no independent information" about the reported house searches.

Terrorism

The left-extremist RAF grew out of the radical student movement in the 1960s. Its earliest incarnation was the so-called Baader-Meinhof Gang, which formed in 1970. Among the group's targets were US troops in Germany, which they terrorized in protest of the Vietnam War. Its founders were captured in 1972, which spawned a "second generation" of militants.

This second generation unleashed a wave of violence in 1977 that became known as the "German Autumn," in which the group murdered, among others, West Germany's chief federal prosecutor and the chief executive of Dresdner Bank. Many members were caught by police.

'No political motive'

A "third generation" emerged that targeted top bankers in West Germany and a privatization chief in communist East Germany. Those responsible for the murders in the late 1980s and early 1990s remain at large.

Local prosecutors said there was no indication the last year's attacks on the armored vehicles had a political motive.

RAF declared its dissolution in a letter in March 1998, saying: "The city guerilla in the form of the RAF is now history," and commemorating "all those who died all over the world fighting domination."

ksb/jlw (AFP, dpa)

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