The German Interior Ministry has identified 31 people suspected of playing a part in alleged incidents of theft and causing bodily harm in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.
Of those, 18 are asylum seekers.
The news came on the same day a state government source told the press the city’s police chief had been “relieved of his duties” following criticism over his handling of the sometimes violent clashes.
Arnold Plickert, the Chief of the Police Union in North Rhine-Westphalia spoke earlier in the day.
“There were not enough officers deployed either in or around the station to deal with this group, which was prepared to use violence. But the police cannot be reproached for this, because it was impossible to foresee.”
Cologne police also received several reports of sexual offences on New Year’s Eve. The perpetrators have not yet been identified, although they are described as being of North African and Arab appearance.
The alleged crimes have attracted the attention of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who says Germany must contemplate deporting foreign convicted criminals. She said “clear signals” must be sent to those breaking German law.