BERLIN: The German police have started a massive investigation into the reports of a group of some 1,000 men carrying out a mass sexual assault on dozens of women during the New Year’s Eve, The Independent reported.

Police in Cologne said they had received 90 criminal complaints by Tuesday and quoted witnesses as saying that groups of 20-30 young men “who appeared to be of Arab origin” had surrounded victims, assaulted them and in several cases robbed them.

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Police have received several complaints from women who said they were sexually assaulted, ranging from groping to at least one reported rape, allegedly committed in a large crowd of revellers during year-end festivities at Cologne city’s main train station.

One of the victims claimed that she was raped in the centre of the city.

Cologne Police Chief Wolfgang Albers said the case is “a completely new dimension of crime”. “We assume more people will come forward,” a police spokesperson told German news agency DPA.

The German government has also condemned dozens of apparently coordinated sexual assaults blamed on Arab men but warned against anti-migrant scapegoating.