A young woman named Jenny was scarred for life after a firework wound up in her jacket during a chaotic mob scene in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve.
Jenny told the BBC a firecracker was put in her jacket by a member of the mob who also stole her phone. “I heard a sizzling sound in my hood and I somehow tried to get it out of my hood,” Jenny told the BBC. “Then it fell into my jacket and burned everything. The scars will stay,” she added.
Still photos of the severe burns Jenny received show a patch of burned and blackened skin near her right shoulder. “I was lucky that it didn’t explode,” she told the BBC.
The attack on Jenny appears to be one of many that occurred in Cologne near the train station on New Year’s Eve. So far 120 reports have been filed with police. Many of the reports include groping and sexual harassment of women.
A British woman also described having fireworks thrown at her by a group of men who spoke neither German nor English. She told the BBC, “They were trying to hug us, kiss us. One man stole my friend’s bag.”
A man at the scene that night described trying to help his female partner and 15-year-old daughter from the same crowd of harassers. “The attackers grabbed her and my partner’s breasts and groped them between their legs,” he told the BBC. Other women have anonymously described experiencing the same sorts of groping attacks on New Year’s Eve.
The attack by men who appeared to be Arab or North African has sent ripples through German society, which took in nearly a million asylum seeking immigrants last year from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has pushed Germans to welcome the new immigrants, has said she is outraged by the attacks.
Authorities have been quick to say there is no evidence the New Year’s Eve attacks were carried out by recent immigrants, but one policeman who was in the area that night told a local newspaper he had detained eight suspects. “They were all asylum seekers, carrying copies of their residence certificates,” he said. So far, that information has not been confirmed.