Attacks on women in Cologne are 'intolerable': Merkel spokesperson

BERLIN -- A string of attacks on women in Cologne on New Year's Eve blamed largely on foreigners was "intolerable," Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said Monday, but "nothing excuses" retaliatory assaults on immigrants.

See Full Article

Merkel has proposed making it easier to deport immigrants involved in crimes, and her spokesman Steffen Seibert emphasized the government is looking into both "possible consequences for criminal law (and) possible political consequences for the intolerable crimes."

But after Cologne police said a group of Pakistanis and a Syrian were attacked in the city on Sunday, Seibert said Germans must not blame all the nearly 1.1 million migrants who entered the country last year, and said the government is also focused on their welfare.

"We're doing all of these things to protect the population in Germany," he said. "We are also doing this for the great majority of innocent refugees who have sought refuge from bombs and war in our country, and who should get this protection and who are prepared to adapt to the rules and values in our country."

The six Pakistani nationals were attacked Sunday by around 20 people and two of them were briefly admitted to a hospital, police said. Also Sunday evening, a Syrian man was attacked by five people. He was injured but didn't need treatment.

Police said they received tips Sunday afternoon about groups of people who would "seek provocation," but were still investigating whether the subsequent attacks were racially motivated and whether there was any link to the New Year's assaults.

Those assaults stoked tensions over Germany's open-door policy to refugees and prompted politicians to call for tougher laws against migrants who commit crimes.

"As abominable as the crimes in Cologne and other cities were, one thing remains clear: there is no justification for blanket agitation against foreigners," Justice Minister Heiko Maas said, adding that some people "appear just to have been waiting for the events of Cologne."

Authorities and witnesses said the New Year's Eve attackers were among a group of about a thousand people, described as predominantly Arab and North African men, who gathered at Cologne's central train station. Some broke off into small groups and groped and robbed women, police said.

Maas has said German authorities need to quickly determine whether the assaults were co-ordinated, and may have been linked to similar offences in other cities including Hamburg. Incidents also were reported in Sweden and Finland.

North Rhine-Westphalia state police told lawmakers Monday, however, that so far their investigation had found no indication the Cologne attacks were co-ordinated, or linked to others, the dpa news agency reported.

Cologne police say 516 criminal complaints have now been filed with them in connection to the New Year's attacks. About 40 per cent involve allegations of sexual offences.

Cologne's police drew criticism both for their response and for their slowness to release information. Police chief Wolfgang Albers was dismissed Friday by North Rhine-Westphalia state's interior minister, Ralf Jaeger.

At a session Monday of the state legislature's home affairs committee, Jaeger said Cologne police hadn't called in reinforcements who were offered.

Jaeger said that witness and police reports "indicate that it was almost exclusively people with an immigrant background who committed these crimes."

In Sweden, where police are also investigating New Year's Eve assaults in the city of Kalmar, police confirmed reports there had also been widespread sexual assaults at a music festival in Stockholm last summer. Stockholm police spokesman Varg Gyllander refused to give the nationality of the suspects, but did say "this involves young men who are not from Sweden."

In a separate incident in Germany, police said Sunday that a Syrian and an Afghan were arrested in northern Germany on suspicion of attacking and robbing a French man who was wearing a Jewish skullcap at the Puttgarden ferry port. The incident happened on Saturday, and the two men had been denied entry to Denmark the previous day.

Frank Jordans and David Rising in Berlin and Karl Ritter in Stockholm contributed to this story.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Murder trial to begin for Edmonton man charged in warehouse stabbings

    Canada News CTV News
    EDMONTON -- A jury trial is to begin today for an Edmonton man accused of killing two co-workers and wounding several others in a bloody knife attack at a grocery warehouse. Jayme Pasieka, who is 32, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault and weapons-related counts. Source
  • At least 5 killed in Pakistan courthouse attack

    World News CBC News
    A group of suicide bombers struck outside a courthouse in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing five people in an attack claimed by a Taliban splinter group. The attack was the latest in a wave of militant assaults across the troubled country that has killed over 100 people since last week. Source
  • Search ongoing for missing snowboarders at B.C. resort

    Canada News CBC News
    Rescue crews are searching for at least four snowboarders missing at a ski resort near Kamloops, B.C. Alan Hobler with Kamloops Search and Rescue (KSAR) says the snowboarders went out of bounds at Sun Peaks on Monday afternoon. Source
  • 4 skiers, snowboarders missing near Kamloops, B.C. ski resort

    Canada News CTV News
    KAMLOOPS, B.C. -- Rescue crews have found 3 of 7 people who went missing Monday at a ski resort near Kamloops, B.C. Alan Hobler with Kamloops Search and Rescue says the two snowboarders and five skiers went out of bounds at Sun Peaks and into a hazardous gully where they could end up stranded or in a creek. Source
  • Ivanka Trump issues call for tolerance after Jewish centre threats in U.S.

    World News CBC News
    Several Jewish community centres (JCC) across the United States were evacuated for a time on Monday after receiving bomb threats, the latest wave of threatened attacks against them this year, the national umbrella organization said. Some 11 centres including those in the Houston, Chicago and Milwaukee areas received phoned-in bomb threats that were later determined to be hoaxes, said David Posner, a director at JCC Association of North America who advises centres on security. Source
  • Venomous snakes stolen in Niagara break-in, police say

    Canada News CBC News
    Police in the Niagara Region are hunting for a number of venomous snakes. Niagara Region police say the reptiles were stolen on Saturday evening when a home was broken into in Thorold. The stolen snakes include several juvenile cobra species, rattlesnakes, adders and vipers, and a pregnant albino boa. Source
  • Kim Jong Nam death investigation is impartial, Malaysian diplomat says

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING - The investigation into the death of the exiled half-brother of North Korea's ruler is being conducted in an impartial manner, Malaysia's ambassador to Pyongyang said Tuesday, rejecting accusations from the North that the probe was politically tinged. Source
  • Venomous snakes stolen from Ontario home

    Canada News CTV News
    THOROLD, Ont. - Police in the Niagara Region of southern Ontario are hunting for a number of venomous snakes. Niagara Region police say the reptiles were stolen on Saturday evening when a home was broken into in Thorold. Source
  • 5 believed dead after plane hits Australian mall [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    MELBOURNE, Australia — Five people were believed killed when a light plane crashed in flames into a shopping mall on Tuesday in the Australian city of Melbourne, officials said. The five were on a twin-engine Beechcraft Super King Air that crashed about 45 minutes before the Direct Factory Outlet mall in suburban Essendon was to open, Police Minister Lisa Neville said. Source
  • 'My life is ruined': Parents of man killed in B.C. kidnapping open up for first time

    Canada News CBC News
    It was September 29, 2015 when Cang Sun got a phone call from his son's kidnapper. Sun was in the process of wire-transferring another instalment of the ransom for his son, Peng Sun, toward the $2.5 million demanded by the kidnapper, when his phone rang. Source