Cologne steps up security for New Year celebrations

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 07:30 GMT, Dec 29, 2016 |

Cologne will step up security ahead of New Year celebrations in response to last week’s truck attack in Berlin and a mass assault on women during celebrations last year, the city’s police chief said on Wednesday (December 28).

“We will set up several vehicles, among them 10 trucks and a water canon or two as well as 34 concrete barriers to prevent cars or trucks from entering especially sensitive security areas,” Cologne police chief Juergen Mathies told reporters.

24-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri is suspected of having deliberately ploughed into a crowd of Christmas market visitors with a truck on December 19, killing 12 people and injuring 48 others.

Amri was shot dead by Italian police after he pulled a gun on them during a routine check in the early hours of Friday (December 23).

“We will focus on protecting the many people who intend to celebrate peacefully. We will systematically react to and intervene in dangerous situations or disturbances,” the police chief said.

Mathies added that for the first time this year, “we will use video surveillance.”

Nearly two dozen asylum seekers are among those suspected of involvement in mass assaults and muggings on New Year’s Eve in Cologne which intensified a debate about Germany’s welcome for hundreds of thousands of migrants last year.