Police in Germany are investigating shocking reports of a group of 1,000 men carrying out a mass sexual assault on dozens of women on New Year’s Eve.
The police in Cologne reportedly received a barrage of complaints from women who claimed they were attacked and groped by a group of men. One woman even claims that she was raped.
The Cologne police chief, Wolfgang Albers, said that the event was “a completely new dimension of crime”. He added that witnesses had described a group of up to 1,000 men who took part in the assaults and that their appearance indicated they were of “Arab or North African origin”.
The attacks provoked an MP, Steffan Bilger from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, to claim that this is proof that Germany needs to tighten its borders. Despite claims of a cover up, The Local reports that many of those taking part in the attack were already known to the police and weren’t newly-arrived refugees.
The crowd were thought to be drunk and reportedly flooded the city’s famous square, before they began to throw firecrackers and shoot fireworks. It’s believed the men were all aged between 15 and 35.
A video has been released of the alleged attack:
Reuters report that as the people celebrated the New Year outside the famous Cologne cathedral, some of the men allegedly began sexually assaulting women and pick-pocketing others. The local media reported that at least 80 people fell victim to the assaults, 35 of whom claim to have been sexually assaulted.
Katja L, one of the victims, told Der Express her buttocks and breasts were grabbed.
Describing the attack she said:
I was groped everywhere. It was a nightmare. Although we shouted and beat them, the guys did not stop. I was desperate and think I was touched around 100 times in the 200 meters. Fortunately, I wore a jacket and trousers. A skirt would probably have been torn away from me.
To clear the area, police sent 143 local officers and 70 federal officers into the square. However the darkness meant that many of the accused escaped. Around 60 criminal complaints have so far been filed, including the rape accusation.
So darfs nicht weitergehen! Dringend nötig: Zuzug reduzieren, Grenzen sichern, Abschiebungen intensivieren, konsequentere Justiz. #Köln
— Steffen Bilger (@SteffenBilger) January 4, 2016
Some Germans including Mr Bilger took to Twitter to condemn the attacks including the MP Steffen Bilger who wrote: “It can’t go on like this. Urgently needed: reduction of influx, secure borders, intensifying of deportations and meaningful justice.”
However, others tried to calm German citizens and told them not to jump to conclusions, with one user tweeting: “It makes me sad that the refugees who really need protection will bear the brunt of the hatred because of Cologne”.