Cologne police were not ready to deal with the mass sexual assaults committed during New Year’s celebrations, the city’s police chief told RT, adding that they have never experienced such incidents before.
“Eventually we had a situation where a large group of men were going after women. We did intervene and help. But I’ll admit that we were totally bewildered by it all. We have never encountered incidents like this before and we weren’t prepared for it,” Cologne Chief of Police, Wolfgang Albers, told RT.
Security has been boosted in the German city which was rocked by mass sexual violence on New Year’s Eve.
— Danny Marx (@dannytastisch) January 5, 2016
According to witnesses, “heavily intoxicated” men of “Arab or North African” origin flooded the city’s famous square between its central train station and Gothic cathedral.
Aged between 15 and 35, individuals in the crowd began throwing firecrackers and setting off fireworks as the New Year was brought in.
With the festivities in full swing, some men reportedly sexually assaulted women and pickpocketed revelers. Among the criminal complaints officially filed, there is at least one allegation of rape.
The city residents are now afraid that such a situation may be repeated.
“It scared me. I am coming through this place every day and I am very scared by what happened here. I hope this will never happen again. It is horrible especially for women,” one woman told RT.
“I am afraid. You cannot separate this from the debate about refugee situation. In my opinion we have to help the refugees but we also have to realize and face the danger that comes as a side effect with this policy and we have to stand up to it!” another Cologne resident, a middle-aged man, said.
The initial police report on New Year ’s Eve in Cologne said the night had gone peacefully.
“Like last year, most of the New Year celebrations were held peacefully,” a Cologne police statement of January 1 said. It added that the situation “was relaxed – also because the police were well placed at critical locations.”
Further police press releases were not so positive. From January 3, police news included a more detailed picture of New Year celebrations. Reports by the assaulted women, the hunt for suspects and police searches were all detailed.
In the meantime, at least four suspects have been identified in connection with the mass sex assaults committed in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, Ralf Jager, the state interior minister for North Rhine-Westphalia, said. Police have not yet made any arrests.