German authorities say they have identified 18 asylum-seekers among 31 suspects linked to crimes committed in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.
An interior ministry spokesman said the suspects’ alleged offences were “mostly theft and causing bodily harm”.
Federal police recorded several complaints of sexual offences, but the perpetrators have not been identified.
Gangs of men described as of North African and Arab appearance were reported to be behind the attacks.
The violence outside Cologne’s main train station on 31 December has sparked a heated debate about Germany’s open door policy on migrants.
‘I’ll kill you’
“Of the 31 suspects whose names are known, 18 have asylum seeker status,” interior ministry spokesman Tobias Plate told reporters on Friday, citing federal police figures.
The suspects include nine Algerians, eight Moroccans, four Syrians, five Iranians, two Germans and one each from Iraq, Serbia and the US, he said.
The state police in Cologne have separately recorded 170 complaints of crimes, 117 of which involve sexual assault. There were two allegations of rape.
Officers arrested two men, aged 16 and 23 and apparently of North African origin, overnight on Thursday in connection with the sex attacks, according to German media.
Videos showing violent confrontations and sexual assaults against women outside the train station were found on the two men’s mobile phones, Westdeutsche Rundfunk (WDR) reported (in German).
Officers also discovered a note on one of the men containing Arabic-German translations for phrases including “nice breasts”, “I’ll kill you” and “I want to have sex with you”, the broadcaster said.
Cologne police say they are currently investigating 21 people in connection with the sexual assaults. It is not known how many of these are asylum seekers.
Read more: BBC
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