Mon, Jan 25, 2016 - Page 6 News List

New Year’s assaults in 12 German states

REFUGEE RETHINK?The spate of assaults on women across Germany has led to protests over German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy of welcoming refugees


German police have found that a wave of sexual assaults and robberies on New Year’s Eve did not only happen in Cologne, but that similar incidents also took place in 12 of Germany’s regional states, local media reported on Saturday.

Hundreds of women have reported they were groped and robbed by mainly North African suspects outside Cologne’s main train station where crowds had gathered to ring in the new year.

However, similar assaults also took place that night in 12 of Germany’s 16 regional states, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and the Northern German Broadcasting and West German Broadcasting Cologne television stations, citing a report by German judicial police (BKA).

The BKA had no immediate comment on the report.

“The phenomenon of sexual violence, in part linked with robberies, is much greater than we previously thought,” the newspaper said on its Web site, adding that the regional states were affected to different degrees.

The most affected state was North Rhine-Westphalia, which includes the city of Cologne, where 1,000 complaints have been filed, followed by Hamburg with 200.

In other states the number of reported incidents was lower: Hesse (31 complaints); Bavaria (27), Baden-Wurtlemberg (25), Bremen (11) and Berlin (6).

One case was reported in Lower-Saxony, Brandeburg, Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland.

Like Cologne, the target of the assaults were women in almost all cases. According to witnesses, the aggressors were often young men of foreign origin, between 17 and 30 years old.

The assaults in Cologne, which police have blamed on young men from North Africa and other Arab nations, have ignited a fierce debate over German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy of welcoming refugees to Germany, which received 1 million asylum seekers last year.

Aydan Ozoguz, who handles integration issues for the government, on Saturday told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the New Year’s assaults had “poisoned” the atmosphere in Germany.

“Several hundred criminals do not represent a million refugees,” she said.

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