FRANKFURT, West Germany — A powerful car bomb exploded outside a U.S. military shopping center Sunday, injuring 34 people, most of them Americans, authorities said.
The blast at 3:20 p.m. damaged 42 cars in the center's parking lot, shattered windows and blew a gaping hole in the back wall of one shop.
"We suspect leftist terrorists because the attack was similar to the car bombing at the U.S. Air Force base in August," said spokesman Alexander Prechtel of the Federal Prosecutor's Office in Karlsruhe. That attack, at the U.S. Air Force Rhein-Main Air Base on Aug. 8, killed two Americans and injured 20 people.
The terrorist Red Army Faction asserted responsibility for the August attack, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday's bombing.
Bill Swisher, a spokesman for the U.S. Army's 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt, said the 34 injured people were treated at the hospital. He said 27 had been released by late evening.
"Seven people are still here, and they are listed in fair to good condition," Swisher said.
The injured included 19 U.S. military personnel, 11 American civilians, a West German civilian and a Filipino, Swisher said.
"For the other two who were treated here, we still don't have any personal details," he said. The identities of the injured were not released.
"Many people just walked off and took themselves to the hospital," said a U.S. Army spokesman, Maj. Christopher Chalko. "Most of the injuries seem to have been bruises and cuts from flying glass."
Frankfurt police spokesman Kurt Kraus said the bomb was packed in a blue BMW sedan that was bought by a "Moroccan-looking man" Saturday at a second-hand dealership near Frankfurt. The same dealership had sold the car used in the August bombing, Kraus said.
The BMW was parked in a lot behind the shopping center, which is for the use only of U.S. military personnel and their dependents.
Chalko said those entering the shopping center must pass by a military police checkpoint about five yards from the blast site.
"A guard who was on duty at the time was one of the people injured in the blast," he said.
West German police and U.S. soldiers in full battle gear immediately shut down the shopping center, in a residential area in northern Frankfurt, and sealed off the area.
Police with guard dogs searched the area.
"The PX (post exchange) was open, but we were lucky that it wasn't real busy," said Maj. Cecil Green, another Army spokesman.