Pakistani, Syrian men injured in Cologne gang attacks

Published January 11th, 2016 - 10:30 GMT

Two Pakistanis and a Syrian man were injured in gang attacks in Cologne, the German city that was the site of dozens of assaults on women on New Year's Eve, Reuters reported.

The local newspaper Express said that the attackers were members of hooligan gangs who arranged to start a "manhunt" of foreigners in downtown Cologne.

The recent assaults on women in Cologne and other cities throughout Germany have prompted more than 600 criminal complaints, with asylum seekers at the center of police investigations.

Ranging from theft to sexual assault, the investigations have prompted a tense debate in Germany about Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy for refugees. In 2015 Germany saw an influx of more than one million asylum-seekers.

Cologne police said that a group of about 20 people attacked six Pakistanis Sunday evening, of whom two were injured. A few minutes later, a separate group of five people attacked and injured a Syrian man, Reuters reported.

A regional parliamentary commission for the state of North-Rhine Westphalia will convene on Monday to question police and other officials about the assaults on New Year's Eve.

On Saturday, the anti-Islam movement, PEGIDA, threw bottles and firecrackers during a march in Cologne before being dispersed by riot police. The group is set to hold a rally in the eastern city of Leipzig on Monday evening.

The attacks on women in Cologne have initiated a debate about stricter punishments for asylum-seekrs who break the law, expedited deportation procedures, and increased video surveillance and police presence in public areas.

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