Sexual assault complaints surge at Cologne's annual carnival

The number of reported sexual assaults surged on the first night of Cologne's traditional carnival celebrations, police in the western German city said on Friday.

Police have received a total of 22 claims of sexual assault - up from nine last year - including one from a Belgium TV journalist who was groped and molested live on camera. There were 10 cases in 2014.

The authorities had dramatically stepped up the police presence at Cologne's carnival events after the city was the focus of mass sexual attacks and robberies against women on New Year's Eve 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.

One woman told police she was raped on her way home from the carnival, when revellers - as is the case in other Rhineland cities - dress up in outlandish costumes while attending parades and parties.

Thursday's celebrations in Cologne marked so-called women's carnival day when women cut off men's ties as a symbol of clipping their power.

Police have so far received a total of 224 complaints, including the sexual assault reports, as well as for personal injury and property damage from those attending Thursday's celebrations in Cologne.

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

However, 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 also said.

Last update: Fri, 05/02/2016 - 20:50

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