Two men “of an immigrant background” have been arrested in the German city of Cologne following a string of alleged sexual assaults on women on New Year’s Eve, according to reports.
The pair are understood to have been detained overnight while near the city’s central station – an area where many of the assaults took place.
One of them was carrying a note written in both German and Arabic carrying translations of phrases including "Beautiful breasts", "I want to have sex with you" and "I’ll kill you", the Telegraph reported.
Germany’s privacy laws have prevented the men being named, the newspaper added. Their nationality remains unclear.
The news follows claims in a leaked police report that some of the perpetrators of the Cologne sex attacks claimed they were Syrian refugees, with one telling officers “you have to treat me kindly! Mrs Merkel invited me.”
Tensions remain high in Germany in the aftermath of the sexual assaults of nearly 100 women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. There were similar attacks in other German cities, including Hamburg, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Dusseldorf on the same night.
In total more than 120 criminal complaints were filed in Cologne alone, with a further 50 in Hamburg – many of them alleging that large groups of men were “hunting” female revellers during the New Year’s celebrations and subjecting them to sexual assault and robbery.
In many cases police described the alleged perpetrators as being of “southern or Arab” or “North African” appearance.
Such claims have sparked anger across Germany, where many have been quick to accuse asylum seekers of carrying out the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults and robberies, adding that the criminality is the result of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s unpopular “open door” refugee policy.
The policy led to the arrival of 1.1 million asylum seekers - many of them desperate Syrians fleeing their war-ravaged homeland - in 2015.
Germany's justice minister Heiko Maas yesterday warned that “deportations would certainly be conceivable” for any asylum seeker found to have taken part in the New Year’s Eve attacks.