Police in Cologne, Germany, were overwhelmed by groups of men attacking women in the city center on New Year’s Eve, according to a leaked report, according to the Washington Post.
An unidentified senior official who wrote the report for Germany’s national police described a “chaotic and shameful” evening in which a lack of officers at the scene meant those there “reached the limits of their abilities pretty quickly,” according to Der Spiegel, which obtained a copy of the report.
“Women, accompanied or not, literally ran a ‘gauntlet’ through masses of heavily intoxicated men that words cannot describe,” the official wrote. The report contradicts the Cologne police department’s initial depiction of the night as “relaxed,” a description that has since been recanted.
Authorities now say that more than 100 women have filed criminal complaints of sexual assault — including two reported rapes — or thefts during the festivities that evening, according to the Associated Press.
Roughly 1,000 men described by officials as being largely of “Arab or North African origin” had congregated in the square outside Cologne station that night, with groups reportedly breaking off to assault women. Victims described a sense of lawlessness that evening as criminals flouted the law even with police present.
Cologne was not the only European city to see trouble on New Year’s Eve.
Police in Helsinki, Finland said that 15 Iraqi asylum seekers were taken into custody amid allegations of groping and harassing women near the city’s central railway station on New Year’s Eve. Ilkka Koskimäki, Deputy Police Chief of the Helsinki Police Department, said three women had filed complaints, alleging they had been kissed and touched against their will.