Cologne police receive 224 complaints during first night of carnival

Police said on Friday they have so far received a total of 224 complaints from people attending Germany's annual carnival in the western city of Cologne, which was the focus of mass sexual attacks and robberies against women on New Year's Eve.

The complaints received by police overnight to Friday covered claims of personal injury, property damage as well as sexual assaults.

Police are expected to outline further details on the complaints later Friday, as it remains unclear whether these numbers mark an increase from last year.

An average of 50 complaints ranging from sexual assault to rape are filed with Cologne police each year.

Thursday was the first night of Germany's traditional carnival celebrations, which are marked with often outlandish costumes, parades and parties in many cities largely in the Rhineland region.

A 29-year-old man was arrested during celebrations in a small Rhineland town after a 24-year-old woman claimed she had been raped, police said.

Police have dramatically stepped up their presence at carnival events to prevent a repeat of New Year's Eve, when women in the city centre of Cologne reported being encircled, sexually harassed and robbed, allegedly by gangs of migrants.

Around 180 people ended up in police custody after Thursday night's celebrations, while 11 police officers were slightly injured as a result of various altercations.

Police in other Rhineland cities such as Bonn and Duisburg said the first night of carnival had passed relatively peacefully.

Last update: Fri, 05/02/2016 - 12:01

More from Europe

Second group of rejected Afghan asylum seekers returns from Germany

A group of 26 Afghan asylum seekers whose requests to live in Germany were rejected arrived back in their home...

New bird flu virus type discovered in northern Germany

A new variant of bird flu has been discovered in domesticated animals in the northern German state of Schleswig-...

EU experts: Merkel has been main target of fake news

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been the main target of fake news campaigns in Europe, including disinformation...

Romanian president plans referendum to save anti-corruption law

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis wants to hold a referendum on the country's plans to ease corruption laws, he said...

Seven casualties, 22 missing at Italian avalanche-struck hotel

The death toll at an Italian hotel buried by an avalanche last week has risen to seven, while 22 guests and staff...