MUNICH, OCT. 13 (SATURDAY) -- German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was shot and seriously wounded Friday night during a campaign appearance in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
A young man was arrested by police after the shooting and taken into custody. Police said two other people fled the scene and are also suspected of involvement, according to the Associated Press.
Schaeuble, a member of the governing Christian Democratic Party, had finished speaking at a political rally in the town of Oppenau shortly after 10 p.m. when a man stood and fired three shots. Two of the shots struck Schaeuble, one in the head and one in the neck.
According to one witness, Schaeuble bled heavily but was conscious after the attack. The assailant, said to be in his late thirties, was knocked to the floor by a member of the minister's entourage. The man was screaming and speaking incoherently according to witnesses.
A physician on the scene treated Schaeuble before he was taken to the hospital. The minister's daughter witnessed the attack as she stood at the door waiting for her father.
A member of Schaeuble's entourage, reported to have thrown himself in front of Schaeuble, was also shot and hospitalized with a bullet wound to the abdomen.
Schaeuble, 48, was initially taken to a clinic in the nearby town of Offenburg and later transferred to the university hospital in Freiburg, where he was reported to be in stable condition with serious wounds.
Initial reports indicated that the attack was not politically motivated or connected to terrorist groups. One German television station identified the alleged assailant as someone "who comes from the criminal drug scene." It added that the suspect, whom it did not name, is not thought to have any terrorist connections. Another television station identified the suspect as Dieter K., and said he used a revolver in the attack.
After the shooting, the alleged assailant complained of persecution by the state. Police did not immediately release the man's name or the charges on which he was being held. The Interior Ministry in Bonn said the gunman had been undergoing treatment for schizophrenia.
In April, Oskar Lafontaine, the opposition Social Democrats' candidate for chancellor, was seriously wounded when a woman stabbed him in the throat with a knife. The attack was judged to be non-political, and Lafontaine has continued campaigning for the Dec. 2 election.
Schaeuble, a member of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's cabinet since 1984, has been interior minister since April 1989. Previously, he was Kohl's chief of staff.
As the minister overseeing police and anti-terrorism efforts, Schaeuble is considered one of the country's most targeted politicians, and his smooth handling of negotiations that led to the treaty unifying West and East Germany has lifted his political profile even further. Earlier this week, he said that all former high-ranking East German Communist officials should be removed from important posts they may still hold.
Violent attacks on top politicians have been rare in postwar German history, although top businessmen have been terrorist targets.
Many Germans recall Schaeuble's emotional announcement to parliament last Nov. 30 that Deutsche Bank chief Alfred Herrhausen, the nation's top banker, had been killed in a bomb blast.