January 11, 2016 5:54 am

Pakistanis, Syrian attacked in Cologne amid tension over New Year assaults

Police drive back right-wing demonstrators using a water cannon during protests in Cologne, Germany, Saturday Jan. 9, 2016. Women’s rights activists, far-right demonstrators and left-wing counter-protesters all took to the streets of Cologne on Saturday in the aftermath of a string of New Year’s Eve sexual assaults and robberies in Cologne blamed largely on foreigners. ( Roland Weihrauch/dpa via AP)


BERLIN – A group of Pakistanis and a Syrian were attacked in Cologne amid tensions over New Year’s Eve assaults in the city that have been blamed largely on foreigners, police said Monday.

Six Pakistani nationals were attacked Sunday by a group of 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.

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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.

READ MORE: Poland summons German ambassador over ‘anti-Polish’ remarks made by German politicians

Those assaults have stoked tensions over Germany’s open-door policy in the refugee crisis and prompted politicians to call for tougher laws against migrants who commit crimes.

Authorities and witnesses said the New Year’s Eve attackers were among a group of about 1,000 people described as predominantly Arab or North African who gathered at Cologne’s central train station. Some broke off into small groups and groped and robbed women, police said.

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.

In a separate incident, police said Sunday two migrants – 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.

READ MORE: German officials looking for links between Cologne assaults and other attacks

Police said the 49-year-old was in a waiting room at Puttgarden ferry port Saturday when the two men, saying “Jew” in Arabic, shoved him to the floor. Police said they stole a bag containing cash, a bank card, a train ticket and a cellphone.

The two men had been denied entry to Denmark the previous day because they lacked the correct papers and were waiting for a train to a refugee centre.

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