Bombing at PX in Frankfurt Wounds 34
The New York Times (page-2 story on Nov. 25, 1985)
By James M. Markham
Bonn, Germany, Nov. 24, 1985 - At least 34 people were
wounded today when a bomb planted in a car was detonated just
outside a crowded American military shopping complex in northern
Frankfurt, the authorities said.
The explosion, which the police said was from a bomb in a
BMW with West German license plates, ripped into a laundromat
used by American military personnel and their families. The car
was parked between the low-slung, white PX complex and the car-wash
unit of a gasoline station on Betramstrasse, and the police said
it was very lucky that the stored gasoline had not been ignited.
The police said they had no clues as to what group placed
the bomb, but the incident appeared to be the latest in an episodic
West German terrorist campaign against American military installations.
In August, terrorists from the self-styled Red Army Faction
staged a bomb attack on the nearby Rhein-Main air base, killing
2 Americans and wounding 20. Three bombs went off at an American
installation in the Saarland the next month, causing damage but
Scores of Vehicles Damaged
The impact of the explosion shredded the BMW into large chunks
of metal and badly damaged a score of vehicles that were parked
near it. The blast blew a hole in the wall of the laundromat
and cut a six-foot crater in the ground. The PX building had
to be shored up by firemen to prevent it from collapsing.
Flying shards of glass were strewn for hundreds of yards,
and the windows were blown out of the headquarters of the nearby
Armed Forces Network.
"It looked very bad," said a nurse at the 97th Military
Hospital, where most of the victims were treated. "People
- military personnel and many women - were everywhere. Many were
Maj. Chris Chalko, a military spokesman who happened to be
driving to the complex when the explosion occurred, said the
car containing the bomb was parked at the fringes of the PX in
an area reserved for German employees. "It's not unusual
to have German-plated cars in this area," the major said.
A checkpoint manned by American military policemen routinely
stops non-military vehicles from entering the restricted PX area.
Tonight military policemen bearing M-16 assault rifles cordoned
off the area as American and West German bomb experts sifted
through the debris for clues.
6 People Hospitalized
Bill Swisher, a hospital spokesman, said that 34 people had
been treated for injuries after the blast and that 27 had been
released. He said all were Americans except for a Filipino and
a West German. None had life-threatening injuries, he added.
Most of those injured appeared to have been in the laundromat.
"I heard a blast," said Victor Grossi, 18 years old,
who works at a Baskin-Robbins shop in the PX complex. "I
didn't see anybody outside."
Mayor Walter Wallmann of Frankfurt visited the site of the
blast and expressed his condolences for the victims. The Frankfurt
area has one of the densest concentrations of American military
personnel in West Germany.
West Germany Seeking 2 Arabs
In Car Bombing at American PX
The New York Times
Bonn, Germany, Nov. 25, 1985 - The West German federal
criminal police announced tonight that they were seeking two
men 'believed to be Arabs in connection with a car bombing Sunday
at an American military shopping center in northern Frankfurt.
The attack wounded 35 people.
A police statement issued in Wiesbaden said the two men purchased
the car used in the bombing at noon on Saturday at a used-car
lot in Gravenbruch, outside Frankfurt. The federal agency said
that in buying the silver BMW, one of the two men showed what
appeared to be a Moroccan passport bearing the name "Azuz
Mohsein" - most likely, "Mohsein Aziz."
The West German police started a nationwide search today for
the bombers but reported that no group had taken responsibility
for the blast at the American PX. In August, the Red Army Faction
terrorist group staged an attack on the giant American Rhein-Main
Air Base outside Frankfurt, killing 2 Americans and wounding
Unusual for West Germany
Although West German terrorist groups have in the past had
connections to Arab groups, such apparently overt involvement
of Arabs in a terrorist operation was unusual in West Germany,
according to experts. The Red Army Faction and other West German
terrorist groups have traditionally taken detailed precautions
to cover their tracks.
A wanted notice issued by the police for the two Arabs said
one was 35 to 40 years old, spoke no German and wore a checkered
Arab headdress at the used-car lot. The second spoke broken German
and was said to be tall, athletic-looking and 30 to 35 years
The BMW, which was shattered in the blast, was parked just
outside a restricted area of the PX. The explosion ripped into
a laundromat, where most of the victims were wounded, but failed
to detonate nearby gasoline pumps. A total of 47 automobiles
were severely damaged in the explosion, many of them reduced
The American Ambassador to West Germany, Richard R. Burt,
today denounced what he called "a cowardly attack"
on the military shopping center and vowed that such actions would
not intimidate the United States.
In a telegram to Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, the
West German Defense Minister, Manfred Woener, said today that
his countrymen "turn with outrage against this unconscionable
A spokesman at the United States Army 97th General Hospital,
Bill Swisher, said that only three of the victims remained hospitalized
today and that they were all "in good condition."