German police investigate links to former RAF terrorists in new armed robbery | News | DW | 27.06.2016
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German police investigate links to former RAF terrorists in new armed robbery

Authorities in Germany are investigating whether three fugitives of the far-left Red Army Faction (RAF) were behind an attack on an armored vehicle. The trio has already been linked to a string of similar robberies.

According to German newspaper "Bild," investigators believe the perpetrators were the alleged former RAF terrorists Burkhard Garweg, Ernst-Volker Staub, and Daniela Klatte (pictured above, left to right).

The attack on an vehicle transporting cash on Saturday was carried out in front of a furniture store in Wolfenbüttel in the eastern German state of Lower Saxony.

According to police, a masked woman and a masked man threatened the driver with a bazooka and an automatic rifle and shot against the vehicle and into the air. A third masked man entered the furniture store where he demanded money and shot the ceiling with a large-caliber weapon.

Due to similarities with previous attacks, German authorities are now investigating whether Staub, Garweg and Kletter were responsible for Saturday's raid. A police spokesman said on Sunday, however, that there was no reliable evidence to link the attacks.

Ernst-Volker Wilhelm Staub, Daniela Klette and Burkhard Garweg

Ernst-Volker Wilhelm Staub, Daniela Klette and Burkhard Garweg

Failed raids

Using DNA found in two vehicles in January, police have already linked all three suspects to a failed armored car robbery in June 2015. It remains unclear, however, as to whether the same suspects were also responsible for another failed raid on a money courier a month earlier. The perpetrators were forced to leave without their loot on both occasions.

The trio is also wanted on suspicion of robbing 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).

Having disappeared underground in the 1990s, prosecutors suspect that the perpetrators carried out the raid in a bid to fund their living costs, with no indication of a political motive.

DNA traces also linked the three to a similar attack on a prison in central Germany in 1993.

RAF remnants

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.

A "third generation" later emerged, targeting top bankers in former 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.

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."

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