UPDATE: Cologne Police Chief Wolfgang Albers said in a news conference Tuesday night that he was mistaken—there were not 1,000 men involved in the incident, nor are the identities of any attackers known yet.
German officials have approximated that a shocking 1,000 men coordinated sexual assaults during New Years Eve in Cologne, Germany, attacking, robbing, and sexually assaulting dozens of women. 90 women have come forward thus far with reports of attacks, including one instance of rape.
The horrifying occurrences happened near Cologne’s central cathedral and train station; according to Cologne Police Chief Wolfgang Albers, it was a "a completely new dimension of crime.” Similar attacks were reported in cities Hamburg and Stuttgart. The men, primarily drunk, were reported to largely be of Arab or North African appearance.
Germany's Prime Minister Angela Merkel expressed disgust over the incidents, conveying her “outrage over these disgusting attacks and sexual assaults,” and stating that Germany must “find the perpetrators as quickly and comprehensively as possible and punish them, regardless of their origin or background.”
As the BBC notes, one of the most troubling aspects of this is the calculated effort: “What is particularly disturbing is that the attacks appear to have been organised. Around 1,000 young men arrived in large groups, seemingly with the specific intention of carrying out attacks on women.”
While nothing official has been stated by the German government regarding the identity of these attackers, many have attributed it to Germany’s influx of migrants and asylum seekers. According to one Cologne policeman, who detained eight suspects, “They were all asylum seekers, carrying copies of their residence certificates.”
Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker has rejected this idea, urging Germans not to blame refugees: “It's completely improper... to link a group that appeared to come from North Africa with the refugees.”
Protests have begun in Cologne, with over 300 women gathering Tuesday night in demonstration.
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