Italian security officials on Saturday appealed to women or girls who think they were sexually abused or molested by mobs during New Year's Eve celebrations in a square near Milan's cathedral to file complaints with police. Several women have told authorities they were groped by young men that night. As of Friday, at least five women, including two Germans, had reported they were surrounded by dozens of Italian and foreign men in Milan's Duomo square or on nearby streets, the AP reports.
Women alleged that they were shoved and groped, daily newspaper Corriere della Sera reported Saturday. One woman, who had her sweater torn and her pants pulled down, suffered scrapes, the paper reported. Police took her to a hospital for treatment. Officers reportedly came to one woman's rescue, but in another case, a German woman said police were nearby but didn't respond to cries for help. The security commissioner for Lombardy, the region that includes Milan, urged any other women who were molested to contact prosecutors. Police are looking at video images to try to identify the attackers.
The reports evoked recollections of sexual assaults near the cathedral and central train station in Cologne, Germany, on Dec. 31, 2015, and Jan. 1, 2016. Those assaults heightened tensions over migration to Germany because most of the men identified as suspects were foreigners. German police were criticized for their handling of the situation, and Cologne's police chief at the time was removed. On Friday, Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese expressed hope "that those responsible for the molestations and violence be handed over to justice." She called for efforts to ensure such "deplorable behaviors" don't happen again.
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