German police allege dozens of women were assaulted in coordinated sexual attacks in Cologne on Thursday evening.
More than 90 people filed complaints to police, authorities confirmed on Tuesday, after a large group of young men allegedly sexually harassed and mugged women who were attending New Year’s celebrations in the city, in western Germany.
Police in Hamburg also said 10 women reported similar assaults in Hamburg on the same night, according to the New York Times.
Some reports estimated a crowd of 1000 men were involved in the attacks at Cologne’s main railway station, but German police said the believed far less were involved.
At a press conference on Tuesday, police said they had “no leads” on the offenders, but information led them to believe between 400 and 600 men gathered to drink alcohol and set off fireworks about 9pm on December 31.
That group grew to about 1000 people and became unruly, German edition of English-language news publication The Local, reported, and police took action to clear them from the area.
The situation calmed, but about 1am police received several reports of sexual abuse.
“At the moment we have no leads about the perpetrators,” city police chief Wolfgang Albers said.
He added “there were not 1000 perpetrators”, but that the offenders had been part of the group.
In a statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “disgusted” and “outraged” by the attacks.
“Everything must be done to investigate the guilty parties as quickly and completely as possible and to punish them without regard to their background or origins,” spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
The comment referred to reports from Cologne police that the perpetrators were of “North African or Arabic” appearance.
The attacks went unreported for days after the incidents, which led some to believe authorities had played down their seriousness to avoid them contributing to the wider debate in Germany on asylum seekers.
A group gathered outside the cathedral in Cologne on January 5, to protest sexism and question the response of authorities, particularly Ms Merkel who has supported the settlement of hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.