Cologne carnival steps up radio communication after attacks

The organizers of the Cologne carnival are stepping up their radio communication network for next month's parade following fears of violence after numerous attacks on women in the city on New Year's Eve, they announced on Friday.

They are planning to create an additional 100 radio communication points to facilitate a quick response should trouble arise, parade leader Christoph Kuckelkorn said.

There would be some 200 contact points in total around the February 8 parade, allowing staff to get in touch with the control room as quickly as possible.

"We want better communication around the Shrove Monday parade," Kuckelkorn said.

Cologne police had earlier announced they would increase security around the event with several hundred officers from outside the city backing up the local force.

Police are also planning to step up CCTV coverage of the famous parade, in which colourful floats pass through the city centre.

Among the topical artworks to be mounted on the floats is a sad-looking German Chancellor Angela Merkel next to a bowl of hard nuts waiting to be cracked, with one of them saying "refugees" - an allusion to Merkel's controversial open-arms migration policy.

Cologne's annual carnival parade will be closely watched this year following the attacks on hundreds of women near the city's central railway station on New Year's Eve.

About half the complaints to police were of a sexual nature, including at least three allegations of rape.

Witnesses said many of the male perpetrators were of North African and Arab origin, and therefore possibly recent migrants to Germany.

The incident has sparked fury over how the Cologne police allowed the incident to spiral out of control, why the police department did not send backup to the train station and whether authorities tried to cover up the involvement of migrants to avoid political blowback over Germany's migration policy.

Meanwhile in Sweden, a report by newspaper Dagens Nyheter said Swedish police have been keeping data on crimes involving refugees secret no matter if they are the perpetrators or victims.

The police have been heavily criticized since it emerged earlier this year that it held back information on attacks on several young woman at a music festival in Stockholm in 2014 and 2015.

Last update: Sun, 21/08/2016 - 12:54

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