Women talk of being groped, burnt by firework, in Cologne's night of mayhem video

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Victims of a mass indecent assault during New Year's Eve celebrations in the German city of Cologne say they feared for their lives.

Women caught up in the sexual assaults in Germany are coming forward to tell their stories from the night of mayhem on New Year's Eve celebrations.

The mass attacks, which took place near Cologne's main train station and included more than 90 alleged attacks and one rape, are understood to have been perpetrated by men of North African descent.

One woman, known as Jenny, has told German TV network N-TV she suffered serious burns when a firework was shoved into the jacket she was wearing.

Michelle said and her friends had huddled together to ward off a group of 30 men "full of anger" during New Year's ...
N-TV

Michelle said and her friends had huddled together to ward off a group of 30 men "full of anger" during New Year's celebrations in Cologne.

"Then I heard a sizzling sound in my hood and I somehow tried to get it out of my hood. Then it fell into my jacket and burned everything. The scars will stay. I was lucky that it didn't explode," Jenny said.

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Police stand guard at Cologne's Hauptbahnhof main railway station.
SASCHA SCHUERMANN/GETTY IMAGES

Police stand guard at Cologne's Hauptbahnhof main railway station.

She lost her mobile phone in the attack.

A distressed unidentified woman, shown only from the back, said: "We were fondled. I was groped between my legs. My friends were also fondled. My boyfriend tried to pull me away. There was quite a big group of people, maybe 30 or 40."

Michelle, 18, was one of the first to talk publicly about her terrifying ordeal. She told N-TV she was with 11 female friends at Cologne's main train station about 11pm when they were surrounded by 20-30 men. She and her friends had grabbed each other and held hands.

Jenny who was scarred for life after a firework was stuffed into her jacket during the New Year's Eve mayhem in Cologne.

Jenny who was scarred for life after a firework was stuffed into her jacket during the New Year's Eve mayhem in Cologne.

"They were full of anger, and we had to make sure that none of us were pulled away by them. They were groping us and we were trying to get away as quickly as possible." The young women eventually managed to flee but lost their mobile phones and wallets in the process.

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Around 12.30am they returned to the station to catch a train. "But there were so many people around it was really difficult to get to the platform," Michelle said. 

Anne, 27, told Spiegel magazine she was shocked when she and her boyfriend arrived at the railway station to find the place packed, mostly with men. There were only a few frightened women and they were being stared at.

The damage done to Jenny's neck and shoulder area.

The damage done to Jenny's neck and shoulder area.

She soon "felt the first hand on my behind". She also saw men firing fireworks into the crowd, causing people to jump and run.

An unnamed police officer quoted by the Express newspaper women "crying and in shock" had told of being severely sexually harassed.

"We went to look for women in the crowd. I picked one up from the ground. She was screaming and crying. Her underwear had been torn from her body," the woman said.

Similar attacks, although not on such a large scale, have been reported from Hamburg and Stuttgart. A 17-year-old woman told Bild newspaper that in Hamburg "some women were chased like cattle".

One witness told the paper more and more foreign men came into a Hamburg club and were grabbing women's backsides.

Schoolgirls aged 17 and 16 at a New Year's market said they were tripped up and grabbed from behind.

"We were completely in panic, hands were touching us all over. When you pushed one hand away, there was another one suddenly back on the same place. There were grabbing us on our breasts, crotch and backsides," they told Bild.

Estimates put the number of men massed around the Cologne railway station at somewhere near 1000. Police said they were of North African or Arab appearance but it is unclear whether they were recently-arrived asylum seekers or second generation immigrants.

Police have also suggested the attacks might have been a tactic to distract the women while they were robbed.

 - Stuff

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