Berlin official condemns harassment of women at street fest

AP News
Posted: May 17, 2016 10:22 AM

BERLIN (AP) — Berlin's top security official on Tuesday condemned incidents in which young women were groped or harassed by groups of men at a street festival in the German capital.

Police said they have received a total of seven complaints alleging sexual harassment or assault at the Carnival of Cultures, an annual festival that ran from Friday to Monday.

The cases include one in which a 17-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman were surrounded by a group of around 10 men on Saturday and the younger girl's cellphone was stolen.

Police arrived shortly afterward and briefly detained three teenage boys who were part of the group. A 40-year-old man also has been identified as a suspect in the cases.

State interior minister Frank Henkel described the incidents as "abhorrent and criminal" and appealed to any other victims to contact police.

Larger-scale assaults in Cologne on New Year's Eve, blamed largely on North Africans, stoked tensions over Germany's recent migrant influx.

It wasn't immediately clear if any of the suspects involved in the Berlin incidents were migrants, though police said several were born in Berlin.