EAST BERLIN, JUNE 16 -- A suspected member of the left-wing Red Army Faction arrested in East Germany is wanted in connection with the killing of three U.S. servicemen in 1985, West German authorities said today.
Sigrid Sternebeck was captured near the city of Frankfurt-on-Oder on the Polish border Friday, East German Interior Minister Peter-Michael Diestel announced.
It was the sixth arrest in 11 days of Red Army Faction suspects who had spent years living in East Germany with the complicity of the former Communist government. About 20 active members of the group are believed to remain at large.
In Karlsruhe, West Germany, a spokesman for State Prosecutor Alexander von Stahl said Sternebeck, 40, was wanted for killing U.S. soldier Edward Pimental in Wiesbaden Aug. 8, 1985, and West Germany would seek her extradition immediately.
Pimental was killed for his identity card. Police say Sternebeck and a Red Army Faction guerrilla unit used it later the same day to gain access to the U.S. Rhein-Main airbase outside Frankfurt. The group then planted a 130-pound car bomb which exploded killing two U.S. servicemen, police say.
Diestel praised the arrest as a prime example of successful cooperation between authorities in the two Germanys. Four Red Army suspects were arrested near Frankfurt-on-Oder and Cottbus on Thursday. One was later freed for lack of evidence. Two others, Susanne Albrecht and Inge Viett, were captured earlier.
In an embarrassing admission late Friday, East Germany retracted a claim that it had arrested Horst and Barbara Meyer, the couple at the top of the Red Army wanted list. An earlier report said Leipzig police detained the Meyers and fellow suspect Sabine Elke-Callsen after a citizen identified them from a West German poster distributed in the East. But fingerprint checks proved it was a mistake.
The Meyers, a couple in their mid-30s, are believed to have taken over leadership of the Red Army Faction's hard core sometime in the 1980s. They are wanted for the killings of arms executive Ernst Zimmermann in February 1985, Siemens executive Karl Heinz Beckurts in July 1986 and top Bonn diplomat Gerold von Braunmuehl in October that same year. They are also believed to have masterminded the Red Army's most recent blow against "NATO imperialism," the Frankfurt bombing of Deutsche Bank chief Alfred Herrhausen .