BONN, OCT. 13 -- The shooting Friday night of German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble -- the fourth attack against a major German figure in less than a year -- has raised questions about the protection provided the country's political and business leaders.
Schaeuble, the heir apparent to Chancellor Helmut Kohl and architect of the German unification treaty, was in satisfactory condition tonight after two operations. But doctors said it will not be clear for a week how much permanent harm was done when an apparently deranged ex-convict shot the interior minister in the face and chest.
Near tears, Kohl tonight visited Schaeuble in the intensive care unit at the hospital in Freiburg. "With such a serious injury, the question of recovery is still open," Kohl said. "I haven't succeeded in coming to terms with this yet. I have tried. . . . " His voice faded and he could not continue.
The attack on Schaeuble was the second this year by an assassin with a history of mental problems. Oskar Lafontaine, the Social Democratic challenger to Kohl in the Dec. 2 election, was stabbed in the neck six months ago by a disturbed woman who approached him at a speaking appearance.
Germany's Red Army Faction terrorist group has claimed responsibility for two previous attacks in the past year, one car bomb that killed Deutsche Bank chairman Alfred Herrhausen, and another that slightly injured Schaeuble's top anti-terrorism expert, Hans Neusel.
Social Democratic Party chairman Hans-Jochen Vogel today questioned whether the security provided for top politicians is sufficient.
Schaeuble's attacker, identified today as Dieter Kaufmann, is a 37-year-old surveyor's assistant who lived with his parents, believed he was being persecuted by the German government, and allegedly planned the shooting for six months. In 1983, Kaufmann was convicted on drug charges and served three years in prison.
Police said Kaufmann watched Schaeuble deliver a speech on German unity at a tavern in the town of Offenburg, followed the politician and then jumped past Schaeuble's two bodyguards, firing repeatedly.