Around six women have reported that they were sexually molested and robbed whilst celebrating the New Year in Zurich. The alleged crimes appear to mirror those carried out in Cologne and other German cities that have sparked a political refugee policy debate.
Zurich city police have appealed for witnesses to come forward along with any other victims who have not yet reported incidents. Police say that the sexual nature of some assaults came to light when they interviewed women who had initially complained of being mugged.
Six women reported being surrounded by "several dark-skinned men", who had robbed, groped and molested them, police said, whilst making reference to the similarity with the German attacks that also took place on New Year’s Eve.
Around 120,000 people celebrated around the lake at what was described as "Switzerland's Biggest New Year's Eve Party". The police reported a total of 24 thefts during the evening.
The problem in Germany is of a greater magnitude, with more than 120 women lodging complaints. In Cologne, the suspects are described as being of “Arab or North African” appearance.
The reports have opened up a vociferous debate over whether Germany should impose stricter border controls to restrict the number of migrants entering the country.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been forced to defend her government’s refugee policy in light of the attacks, calling them “intolerable”. “We have a duty to give the right answers,” she added.
In addition to the Zurich and German attacks, Finnish police have said they have received information that similar attacks had been planned during the New Year.
swissinfo and agencies