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Photograph: EPA/MAJA HITIJ

Police in Finland and Sweden said Friday they were investigating several criminal complaints from women who say they were sexually attacked on New Year's Eve, in incidents similar to German cases that have caused widespread uproar.

In the Finnish capital of Helsinki, police said they have received three complaints of sexual harassment, police chief Ilkka Koskimaki told dpa.

The probe centred on incidents that took place near the main railway station, where about 1,000 asylum seekers joined other revellers.

Police had been tipped off about possible disturbances from the Finnish Migration Authority and posted more officers in central Helsinki.

"We deployed a lot of police officers to control the situation. Most were very peaceful and behaved well," he added.

Three suspects were briefly held, but have been released, he said.

In a separate incident, six men at a refugee centre in Helsinki were taken into custody on New Year's Eve on suspicion of inciting criminal activity, but details were sketchy.

"Maybe we will never find out what was really planned," Koskimaki said.

Meanwhile, police in the south-eastern Swedish city of Kalmar said they were investigating at least eight complaints of sexual harassment targeting 15 young women aged 16 to 20.

“We know more young women have been affected and have asked them to file complaints," spokesman Johan Bruun told dpa.

Mobile phone footage and photos have been received by police.

The incidents saw men touching the women's breasts at Larmtorget Square in Kalmar where the New Year’s celebrations were held, but also in one restaurant at the square.

Two men - born 1983 and 1996, both asylum seekers - are under investigation for sexual harassment. Both have denied the allegations, Bruun said.

He added that the investigation began Thursday and there were no reports of any thefts or aggravated assault.

Both Finland and Sweden last year saw a strong rise in the numbers of people seeking asylum.

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