BERLIN AFP - The number of sexual offence complaints almost quadrupled at this year's carnival celebrations in Cologne, German police said Wednesday, despite heightened security aimed at preventing a repeat of the mass assaults that marred the city's New Year celebrations. A total of 66 complaints for sexual insults or aggression were lodged between last Thursday, when the carnival got underway and Wednesday morning. The previous year there were 18 such reports, police said. However part of the rise could be down to "a change in the attitude of victims and witnesses", the police added.
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Cologne tightens security for Carnival in wake of recent sex assaults
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France 24 is not responsible for the content of external websites. Cologne hosts its annual Carnival from Thursday with beefed-up security to prevent a repeat of the sex assaults that marred New Year's festivities and ignited a debate about Germany's ability to integrate asylum seekers. Police in the western German city have been struggling to restore public confidence after it emerged that hundreds of women were groped and robbed in a mob of mostly North African and Arab men during celebrations at the start of the year. All eyes are now on the week-long event which begins Thursday with "Weiberfastnacht", roughly translated "Women's carnival day", when thousands of female revellers in fancy dress take to the streets, and are invited to cut the ties of men as a symbol of clipping their power. The highlight of the festivities is Rose Monday, with a parade of giant floats often in the theme of the hottest news of the year.
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Big rise in sex offence complaints at Cologne carnival
Police in Cologne have said that 22 incidents of sexual assault occurred in the city on the first night of the traditional Carnival street party. They have people in custody and officials have described them as "a cross section of the general public". Security has been beefed up in the city, after many women suffered sexual assaults and robberies there on New Year's Eve. Cologne sex attacks: Women describe 'terrible' assaults.
Festivities reach a peak the three days before Ash Wednesday known as Les Trois Joyeuses with costumed bands and parades and, on the Sunday, a unique local twist involving kg of herring. They are the weapon of choice in a re-enactment of a battle that took place between locals and Napoleonic troops in the early 19th century. The citrussy tussle is followed by a parade of floats and music groups.