U.S. Embassy in Bonn Is Sprayed With Bullets by Left-Wing Group : Terrorism: Shots fired across Rhine cause no injuries. A letter links the attack to the war.
Left-wing terrorists firing across the Rhine River sprayed the U.S. Embassy with bullets Wednesday night, causing minor damage and no injuries, authorities said.
The Red Army Faction claimed responsibility for the attack and linked it to the Persian Gulf War in a letter found in a plastic bag near a house across the river from the embassy, according to the federal prosecutor’s office.
No arrests were made.
Embassy spokesman Neal Walsh confirmed that there were “some bullet holes” and possibly some broken windows in the chancellery building of the waterfront embassy.
German authorities said at least 15 shots hit the embassy and that 60 spent 9-millimeter bullet casings were uncovered near the spot where the letter claiming responsibility was found.
The contents of the letter were not made public, but the prosecutor’s office said it was considered authentic.
Walsh said the embassy had not received any direct threats before the incident but that the diplomats had taken “stringent” security precautions since the onset of the Middle East conflict.
He said damage was on the side of the building “away from” the offices of U.S. Ambassador Vernon A. Walters.
An embassy operator who answered the telephone there an hour after the attack said: “We’re just sitting here in the dark. We’re not allowed to turn any lights on. I’m just glad I’m a smoker so at least I can see by my cigarette.”
Walsh declined to say for security reasons how many people were inside the embassy when the shots rang out. German police blocked off the streets leading up to the compound and stood guard through the snowy night.
Jody Goodman, an American attorney who lives along the river about a mile from the embassy, was feeding her 2-week-old daughter, Julia, when she heard what sounded like a burst of machine-gun fire.
“I thought, ‘What is this? We’re not in a war zone,’ ” she said. “It didn’t really register.”
Ambassador Walters issued a statement saying, “We will not in any way let this disturb the operations of the embassy.”
Chancellor Helmut Kohl telephoned Walters to express regret over the attack, the latest in a 20-year series of terrorist bombings and assassinations by the Red Army guerrillas.
The embassy attack came after a Jordan-based Palestinian fundamentalist group threatened to attack German targets in retaliation for German support of the Gulf War.
The remarks by Sheik Assad Tamimi, leader of the Islamic Jihad-Beit, were published Wednesday by the news magazine Stern.
“The German pilots in Turkey are a target for us, and our holy war will not stop at the borders of Germany,” he was quoted as saying.
“At the moment, our plans are directed at a target in Frankfurt. Of course, I cannot give you details, but I can assure you--perhaps you will hear tomorrow in the morning news how successful our people have been there.”
Frankfurt, in addition to having one of the world’s busiest international airports, has a large American military community, including U.S. military hospitals treating American soldiers wounded in the Gulf.
The last major attack by the Red Army Faction was last July, when a sophisticated remote-control bomb destroyed the car of one of Germany’s top terrorism experts. The intended victim escaped with scratches.
The Red Army Faction waged an assassination and bombing campaign against leading capitalists and Western military targets in the 1970s and early ‘80s, but many of its leaders were arrested.