Police in the German city of Cologne are searching for a group of 1000 men, aged between 15 and 35, with regard to a mass – and apparently organised – sexual assault that took place on NYE.
As people celebrated in central Cologne,a group of heavily intoxicated men reportedly joined the crowds, setting off fireworks and firecrackers.
They then began pickpocketing people in the crowds, and sexually assaulting women.
As one of the victims told local media:
“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.”
At least 60 people have filed criminal charges, with 35 of these being related to sexual assault, and one torape. Police are expecting more people to come forward in the next few days.
The incident has raised controversy, as the majority of witness reports describe the men as of “Arab or North African origin.”
People are calling for Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel to tighten Germany’s borders in response to the incident. As one man tweeted:
“Urgently needed: reduction of influx, secure borders, intensifying of deportations and meaningful justice.”
Others are concerned that this incident will have a negative effect on refugees, who are not at fault in the incident. Police reported that the group of men in question were already known to them, and therefore could not be newly arrived to the country.
As one woman tweeted:
“It makes me sad that the refugees who really need protection will bear the brunt of the hatred because of Cologne.
We need to be able to tell the difference.”
You can watch footage from the night here: