Cologne sex assaults: Refugees attacked by mob, German police say

Tensions have been high after 516 women claimed to have been the victims of sexual assaults and muggings in the German city on New Year's Eve

A group of Pakistanis and a Syrian man have been attacked by gangs in Cologne, after foreigners were blamed for a spate of sexual assaults in the German city on New Year's Eve.

German police said around 20 unknown assailants attacked six Pakistanis on Sunday evening, two of whom had to be hospitalised.

Later, a group of five people attacked a 39-year-old Syrian national.

Local newspaper Express reported the attackers arranged to meet via Facebook in downtown Cologne to start a "manhunt" of foreigners.

Chaotic NYE celebrations in Cologne

Tensions have been high after 516 women claimed to have been the victims of sexual assaults and muggings on New Year's Eve.

Some 40 per cent of the complains included sexual assault and there were two reports of rape. A leaked report has shown police were overwhelmed by the violence.

Another 133 similar charges have been lodged with police in the city of Hamburg, while several reports were also made in Frankfurt.

The assaults have led to renewed tensions over Germany's open-door policy to the refugee crisis and led to calls for German Chancellor Angela Merkel to adopt tougher laws against refugees who commit crimes.

Supporters of anti-immigration right-wing movement Pegida in Cologne, Germany, January 9, 2016.

On Saturday, German police used water cannons and pepper spray to push back more than a thousand anti-immigration protestors.

Supporters of Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) threw bottles and fire crackers at a march on Saturday, before being dispersed by riot police.

Three police officers and a journalist were wounded in the clashes. A number of arrests were made.

Angela Merkel has proposed measures for the rapid expulsion of criminal asylum seekers following the attacks.

Additional reporting by agencies