Cologne sex attacks: ‘1000 men’ raped, robbed and groped women

January 6, 2016 4:55 am

 Fireworks outside Cologne station. Police said about 1000 men took over the area on New Year’s Eve.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced outrage at a series of sexual
assaults in the western city of Cologne on New Year’s Eve, saying the
perpetrators need to be found as soon as possible.
Merkel called
Cologne’s mayor Henriette Reker to express her concern about the
assaults, which took place around Cologne’s main train station, next to
the city’s famous cathedral.
“The chancellor expressed her
outrage about these despicable assaults and sexual attacks, that demand a
hard response by the forces of law,” Merkel’s office said.
The
chancellor also called for everything to be done “to find the
perpetrators as quickly and comprehensively as possible and to punish
them without regard to their origin or background,” it said.

Police said that a group of about 1000 men who took over the
area around the main station on New Year’s Eve. Women were robbed,
groped, and had their underwear torn from their bodies, while couples
had fireworks thrown at them.
Police have received 90 criminal complaints, around a quarter of them for sexual assault, including one case of rape.
The
incident has sparked a debate about the behaviour of migrants in
Germany after witnesses and police described the perpetrators as being
of “Arab or North African origin”. Police said the men had gathered in
large numbers near the train station, drinking alcohol and releasing
fireworks along with other revelers.
“We don’t currently have any
suspects, so we don’t know who the perpetrators were,” Cologne’s police
chief Wolfgang Albers said. “All we know is that the police at the
scene perceived that it was mostly young men aged 18 to 35 from the Arab
or North African region.”
Cologne’s mayor also cautioned against hasty conclusions about the perpetrators.
“It’s completely improper … to link a group that appeared to come from North Africa with the refugees,” Reker said.
Albers expressed regret that initial police reports of the New Year’s festivities contained no mention of the assaults.
“The full extent of the assaults, particularly the sexual assaults, only became apparent to us the following day,” he said.
Separately,
police in the northern city of Hamburg appealed for witnesses who
observed similar sexual assaults and thefts in the St. Pauli district on
New Year’s night.
Cologne’s mayor, who held a crisis meeting
with police officials on Tuesday, said her city would step up measures
to prevent such attacks during the annual Carnival festivities next
month, during which alcohol-soaked street parties are the norm.
“We
will also have to explain our Carnival better to people from other
cultures, so that there’s no confusion about the cheerful behaviour in
Cologne that has nothing to do with candour, especially candid
sexuality,” Reker said.

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