Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who guided negotiations of the treaty that linked the two

German states, was shot and seriously wounded late Friday at a campaign gathering, police said.Schaeuble, 48, was struck by two bullets in the head and neck and was in serious condition, police said. Reports, however, indicated his life was not in immediate danger.

Police arrested a 37-year-old suspect who "comes from the criminal drug scene," the ZDF television network reported.

Ralf Krueger, head of the Baden-Wuerttemberg state criminal office, said there was no evidence the suspect had a terrorist background and most probably acted alone. Police denied an earlier report that two others allegedly involved in the 10 p.m. shooting had fled.

The attack, which occurred in Oppenau, in the Offenburg district outside Freiburg, in southwest Germany, was the most serious incident since East and West Germany reunited on Oct. 3.

Schaeuble was rushed to the district hospital in Offenburg for treatment, about 9 miles west of where the attack took place, police said.

A security guard who threw himself in front of Schaeuble was wounded in the stomach, according to the Interior Ministry.

The German Interior Ministry is responsible for many police functions, including drug investigations, but not with investigating terrorism.

Schaeuble was named interior minister by Chancellor Helmut Kohl in April 1989, replacing former minister Eduard Zimmermann. Previously Schaeuble was Kohl's chief of staff.

A popular, boyish-looking figure, he has been a member of Kohl's Christian Democratic Union Party since 1966, and a strong backer of Kohl's successful efforts to unite the two Germanys.

Following his smooth handling of negotiations that led up to unification, he has been tipped as a future Christian Democrat candidate for chancellor when Kohl retires.

Many Germans recall Schaeuble's emotional announcement to Parliament last Nov. 30 that Deutsche Bank head Alfred Herrhausen, the nation's top banker, had been killed in a bomb blast.