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Jürgen Mathies, the new Cologne police chief, said many of the perpetrators were from countries where they might be familiar with "this behaviour, where women are hemmed in and then abused by a large number of men at once".
The Cologne assaults were not reported by the national media for days, and The Local says many news outlets started reporting it only after a wave of anger on social media made covering the story unavoidable.
By 8 January, 170 women, including a police officer, had reported crimes to the police, including two rapes, with the events taking place in the main square between the station and Cologne Cathedral, and also within and outside the central railway station.
The number increased to 379 on the following day, and sexual offences were alleged in 40 percent of these cases.
Although Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker condemned the assaults, she was strongly criticized for some of her comments and was accused of blaming the victims.
Cologne's police chief, Wolfgang Albers, was transferred to provisional retirement for his handling of the situation.