German police say they prevent repeat of New Year Cologne assaults

By REUTERS
January 1, 2017 18:22

German police said on Sunday they had prevented a repeat of the assaults and robberies suffered by hundreds of women in Cologne a year ago by screening 650 mostly North African men on New Year's Eve.

Police detained and screened many of the men at the main railway station as they headed towards the center of Cologne in western Germany, where the attacks a year earlier fueled criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door migrant policy.

Cologne police chief Juergen Mathies did not say how many of the men were subsequently allowed into the city center but denied that the checks amounted to racial profiling. He also said many of those detained had been aggressive.

"This was clearly about preventing similar incidents to last year," he told a news conference. "A large part of this group that was checked was such that criminal acts were to be expected. That is why we took this clear approach."

Police arrested 92 people - including 16 Germans and 10 Syrians - during Saturday night's celebrations in Cologne. Police also installed new video surveillance cameras to monitor the station square.


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