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Germany Arrests Red Army Faction Fugitive

One of Germany’s most wanted fugitives was arrested on Monday after living in plain sight in Berlin, just miles from the seat of government that the police say she fought to overthrow in the 1990s.

The woman, Daniela Klette, who had evaded the police for decades, was wanted in connection with the bombing of a prison in 1993. The police say they believe she was a guerrilla with the Red Army Faction, originally know as the Baader-Meinhof gang, Germany’s most infamous postwar terrorist group.

During her time in hiding, the police say, Ms. Klette and two accomplices, Ernst-Volker Staub and Burkhard Garweg, who are also wanted in connection with Red Army Faction activities, committed at least 13 violent robberies, netting them about two million euros (a little more than $2.1 million).

Heavily armed police officers apprehended Ms. Klette, 65, in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin in a rental apartment in a plain, beige eight-story building on a street where the Berlin Wall stood during the Cold War. When she was arrested, they said, she presented an Italian passport bearing a fake name. The police also said they found two ammunition magazines and bullets in the apartment, but no gun.

On Tuesday afternoon, the police confirmed the arrest of an older man in Ms. Klette’s circle, but did not give any details other than to say that his age fit the profile of her alleged accomplices.

A photo released by the German police in 1993 of Daniela Klette.Credit…Associated Press

The arrest comes after a yearslong search during which the police sifted through thousands of clues, many of which led nowhere.

“Terrorists can never feel safe, not even after 30 years,” said Daniela Behrens, the state minister responsible for the police, at a hastily organized news conference in Hanover on Tuesday.

The State Police in Lower Saxony, where Hanover is, have been leading the investigation of Ms. Klette and her associates for crimes they are accused of committing since 1999 to finance their lives in hiding.

“We’ve stood at various doors, to coin a phrase, in different places, not only in Germany,” said a triumphant Friedo de Vries, the president of Lower Saxony’s state police, noting that the police had to “accept failures” before making the arrest. The federal authorities will be responsible for charging and prosecuting Ms. Klette and her associates for any politically motivated crimes where the statutes of limitations have not run out.

The prosecutor leading the search recently began another major public appeal to find the trio, whom the news media has taken to calling the R.A.F. pensioners. A state prosecutor appeared on Germany’s version of “America’s Most Wanted” to remind people of the search and the fact that there was a reward of 150,000 euros, roughly $163,000.

The tip that led to the arrest on Monday finally came in November, the police said. It took the intervening months to ensure that the woman living in the flat in Kreuzberg, who, as neighbors told the Bild tabloid, tutored children, walked her big white dog daily and was unfailingly polite, was in fact one of Germany’s most wanted. Ms. Klette, who the police say did not resist arrest, was brought before a judge in Lower Saxony on Tuesday.

The Red Army Faction, or R.A.F., was active from 1970 until the 1990s and included several separate cells whose attacks on the state spanned the decades, ultimately leading to the deaths of 33 people. The guerrillas followed a Marxist-Leninist ideology and targeted American and capitalist interests in West Germany.

Ms Klette, who was just 18 when several of the group’s original members died in a suicide pact in a high-security prison in 1977, was part of the third generation of the R.A.F., which is thought to have included about 25 active members and hundreds of supporters.

She is believed to have played a role in the bombing of a newly built section of a prison in Hesse, which did not lead to injuries or death, but roughly 80 million Deutsche Marks, then about $45 million, in damage.

The R.A.F. disbanded in 1998.

The authorities say they believe that it was just a year later that Ms. Klette and her two accomplices started robbing supermarkets at gunpoint.

On Tuesday, investigators said they were still searching Ms. Klette’s apartment, specifically for clues that would lead to her two accomplices.

“Despite various setbacks, we always believed that sooner or later we would be successful,” Mr. de Vries said on Tuesday.

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