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West German Police Investigate Border Shooting

August 20, 1989

ESCHWEGE, West Germany (AP) _ West German authorities said Sunday that at least 90 bullets were fired across the border into East Germany in a mysterious incident that has aggravated relations between the two nations.

Authorities said they had no clues of the identity or number of assailants in the incident that occurred early Friday, nor did they know what motivated the attack.

Shots from the West German side of the Werra River were fired for more than an hour in the early morning, hitting two houses and a barn in the East German border town of Wahlhausen, according to the East German ADN news agency.

A police spokesman in this West German border town about 130 miles east of Bonn said Sunday that 90 small-caliber bullet casings were found at the nearby Werra River. He spoke on condition of anonymity.

No one was injured in the incident, but it has added another strain in relations with Communist East Germany.

East Germany filed an official protest in Bonn on Friday, calling the incident ″an extraordinarily provocative attack.″ The protest said the incident ″seriously endangered the life and health of the region’s residents, as well as members of the East German border guards.″

Eschwege police said they might have caught the attackers if East German authorities had informed them of the incident sooner.

″We don’t understand why the East German border guards didn’t activate an alarm,″ one policeman said Sunday. ″Then we could have intercepted the assailants.″

ADN said East German leader Erich Honecker dispatched the regional Communist Party chief to Wahlhausen to console the two families whose homes were damaged.

One of the residents, Egbert Jost, suggested to the news agency that West German border guards were negligent in not preventing the attack or the escape of the attackers.

The agency quoted Jost calling the incident ″the worst provocation on the West German border″ since the end of World War II.

Reinhold Feige, a 75-year-old retiree whose granddaughter was in the home when it was fired on, called the attack ″indescribably cruel.″

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