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German robbers seize $400,000

DUESSELDORF, Germany -- Three robbers armed with a grenade launcher have held up an armoured van and stolen at least one million marks ($440,000), authorities have told the Associated Press.

The robbers -- riding in two stolen cars -- ran the armoured money transport off the road in a suburb in Duesseldorf on Monday night and forced the two guards to hand over three boxes of cash, police said.

The robbers fled in one of the cars and were at large on Tuesday.

Though federal prosecutors blamed a new left-wing terrorist group for a similar hold-up two years ago, investigators said they saw no immediate link in this case.

A shot was fired during the robbery but no one was hurt, a police spokeswoman said, adding that the robbers threatened the guards with what appeared to be a grenade launcher, AP reported.

German investigators two weeks ago linked a 1999 robbery in which a grenade launcher was used to two alleged members of the Red Army Faction (RAF), a terrorist group that attacked NATO and industrial targets in Germany from 1970 to the early '90s.

Federal prosecutors have said they believe the two suspects are part of a new terrorist group with access to the same weapons caches and safe houses.

Duesseldorf prosecutors and police said on Tuesday they had no evidence to connect the latest robbery to holdouts of the RAF, which announced it was disbanding in 1998.

Robbers in the July 1999 attack on a security van in Duisburg, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of Duesseldorf, made off with more than 1 million marks ($450,000).

Three similar armoured car robberies have occurred in the region since 1997, including two in which the assailants carried a grenade launcher, North Rhine-Westphalia state police spokesman Fredrick Holtkamp told AP. None of those crimes have been solved.

• German Government
• Red Army Faction (RAF)

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