Police probe alleged sex assaults at music festival
Police in Germany are investigating reports of a series of sexual assaults against women at a music festival in what appears to be a smaller-scale repeat of the New Year attacks in Cologne.
So far, 26 women have come forward to say they were assaulted at the festival in the city of Darmstadt, south of Frankfurt, and 14 have made formal criminal complaints.
"The women complained that they were surrounded by small groups of men who then touched them inappropriately," a spokesman for the Darmstadt police said.
There are fears the incidents could cause a backlash against immigrants after it emerged most of victims described their attackers as foreign in appearance.
"The women said that it was their impression the perpetrators were South Asian," the police spokesman said.
On Sunday, police in Darmstadt arrested three Pakistani men aged between 28 and 31 in connection with the latest assaults, but later released them for lack of evidence.
Two are believed to be asylum-seekers while the third is a long-term resident of Germany.
"There are no grounds to continue to hold them," the police spokesman said.
Most of the victims are believed to be young women in their late teens and early twenties.
The alleged assaults took place at the Schlossgrabenfest, an open-air music festival which attracted crowds of more than 400,000 people over four days.
The tactics the women reported being used are reminiscent of the New Year sex attacks in Cologne, in which hundreds of women were assaulted outside the city's main railway station.