Soviet soldier fires at German officers

April 21, 1991|By New York Times News Service

BERLIN -- A Soviet soldier guarding an arms depot in eastern Germany opened fire on Friday on three uniformed German army officers apparently in the act of photographing the Soviet base, wounding one of them in the arm, officials said.

It was the first serious incident involving the two armies since Germany was united last year and Soviet forces began to withdraw from what had been East Germany.

The Bonn government said that the Soviet action was "in no way justified" and ordered an investigation. The Soviet military command defended the action of its soldiers, saying that they had behaved "according to accepted military guidelines."

In an unusually forthright statement, the Soviet command accused the German officers of entering a clearly marked restricted area. It said they had failed to respond to appeals for them to leave.

One of the Germans returned to a nearby automobile, the Soviet command said, but a second continued photographing the depot through a barbed-wire fence. After a warning shot was fired in the air, a Soviet soldier, identified in the statement as V. Delyukin, opened fire with an automatic weapon. The German officer was wounded in the arm.

Lt. Gen. Joerg Schoenbohm, the commander of the German forces in eastern Germany, acknowledged that "three soldiers were taken under fire by Soviet guards" at Altengrabow, a village near the city of Magdeburg, and said an investigation was under way.

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