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More suspects arrested in Cologne attacks

Elizabeth SchumacherJanuary 8, 2016

Two more suspects have been apprehended in connection with the sexual violence perpetrated in the city of Cologne on New Year's Eve, according to German media. The men allegedly had video footage on their cell phones.

Deutschland Silvesternacht vor dem Hauptbahnhof in Köln
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Böhm

Police confirmed media reports on Friday that Cologne police had arrested two more suspects overnight in connection with the string of sexual assaults carried out in the western German city on New Year's Eve.

According to broadcaster WDR, the two men were of a foreign background and had in their possession cell phone video footage that showed rioting and the harassment of women.

Police also found a piece of paper with translations of phrases like "nice breasts," "I'll kill you," and "I want to have sex with you," translated from Arabic into German, wrote the broadcaster.

Investigators later confirmed they had a 16-year-old and 23-year-old from Morocco and Tunisia in custody, but they did not comment on the alleged incriminating translations.

The overnight arrests bring the total amount of suspects in custody to 21, and Friday saw the amount of criminal complaints rise to 170 - 117 of them for sexual crimes.

On New Year's Eve, members of a crowd of some 1,000 men are alleged to have molested, and in one case raped, a number of women passing through the city's main square between the central train station and famous cathedral.

Infografik ARD-Deutschlandtrend vom 7.1.2016 Ereignisse in Köln ENG

Both city police and the administration have been criticized for their initial response to the assaults. Mayor Henriette Reker, who has promised more police presence and video cameras for the square, came under fire for suggesting women keep strangers "at arm's length."

Police, on the other hand, have been slammed for initially reporting New Year's Eve as peaceful, and only announcing the string of assaults on January 2, on top of being unprepared for what is known to be one of the rowdiest nights of the year.

They have also come under fire from the German media for not being more forthcoming about the number of asylum seekers thought to be among the attackers, citing the "politically awkward" reality in light of the country's open-door refugee policy.

Authorities have defended themselves however, saying there were more officers on duty than on a normal night and even more than on New Year's Eve 2014.