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Police Rule Out Terrorist Motive

March 11, 1985

DORTMUND, West Germany (AP) _ Police said Monday an explosion that wounded eight people in a department store last week was not the work of terrorists, but of young men who rigged a homemade pipe bomb ″for the fun of a big bang.″

Hans-Georg Fuchs, spokesman for the Federal Criminal office, told a news conference four men were under arrest. He said the ″big bang″ remark was made by Torsten Retta, a 20-year-old apprentice electrician from Dortmund, who told interrogators he planted the bomb.

The explosion occurred Thursday in the photography section of the Hertie department store in Dortmund. A customer lost a foot and doctors had to amputate the leg of a saleswoman.

Fuchs said Retta and three other men, aged 18 to 21, were arrested Sunday evening near Dortmund. He did not release their names, but said two were apprentice electricians and one an apprentice mechanic.

They are held on suspicion of helping Retta and of providing material to make the bomb. Fuchs said none had terrorist connections or criminal records.

The spokesman said information leading to Retta’s arrest came from one of his three friends who got ″cold feet.″

The pipe bomb was packed with easily obtainable chemicals, and it was a ″miracle″ the device did not detonate when Retta welded it together because it was ″highly explosive,″ Fuchs said.

Retta told investigators he planted the bomb in the store only by chance, but he was aware that casualties could result from the explosion, Fuchs said.

Shortly after the explosion, an anonymous caller telephoned a West German newspaper and said it was the work of a group calling itself ″Action Christian Klar″ - the name of a jailed Red Army Faction terrorist.

Retta and the three other suspects denied making the call, Fuch said.

Miss Klar and some 30 other jailed Red Army Faction terrorists went on hunger strike in December and January to press demands that they be housed together and recognized as prisoners of war.

Police blamed the Red Army Faction for more than 30 terrorist attacks during the hunger strike, saying the actions were carried out in support of the protesters.

The fast was halted shortly after two terrorists burst into the suburban Munich home of leading industrialist Ernst Zimmermann and shot him to death Feb. 1.

Nearly 12 hours after the Dortmund bombing, three blasts damaged buildings housing the West German coal miners’ union in Bonhum, the Ruhr mining employers’ association in Essen and a shipping supply company in Hamburg. No one was injured. Police have not reported arrests in those attacks.

The Revolutionary Cells, an underground group that supports the aims of the Red Army Faction, claimed responsibility for the three bombings. The group said it acted in support of Britain’s National Union of Mineworkers, which ended a year-long strike earlier in the week.

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