26 women report sex assaults at German music festival

A photo taken on May 26, 2016 in Darmstadt, western Germany shows people enjoying an open air concert during the Schlossgrabenfest music festival. PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN (AFP) - The number of women who have reported being sexually harassed or assaulted at a German music festival last weekend has risen to 26, police said Tuesday (May 31).

The mostly young women, who between them filed 14 criminal complaints, said they were encircled and groped by groups of men in ways that recalled mob attacks at chaotic New Year's festivities in Cologne.

"The women have reported that the (perpetrators) appeared to be men from the South Asia region," police said in a statement after an initial 18 women had reported assaults.

Police said three Pakistani men aged 28 to 31, at least two of them asylum seekers, were arrested at the four-day open air music festival in the western city of Darmstadt but later released.

The Cologne attacks on New Year's Eve - committed in a crowd of mostly Arabic and North African men - appalled Germany and sharpened public concern about the arrival of over one million asylum seekers last year, most from the Middle East.

In the inflamed debate that followed, far-right groups railed against "sex jihadists" and "rapefugees".

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