Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said: "You cannot draw a general suspicion against refugees from the indications that they were perhaps people who looked North African."Mr Jaeger's blunder comes days after he distanced himself from Cologne mayor Henriette Reker, who sparked an outcry by suggesting that women should keep unknown men "at arm's length" to avoid being assaulted.
Interior Ministry spokesman Tobias Plate added federal police had identified 31 people suspected of playing a role in the violence, 18 of whom were in the process of seeking asylum in Germany.
And then came the day of departure to the recreation center “Zarya”. Among the noisy group of schoolchildren, I counted 23 girls and 19 boys. Teachers were six people, plus my wife and I – that’s the whole company.
Time off from work on December 30 and 31, we had no trouble.
At least 120 women were robbed, threatened or sexually molested by crowds of drunk men in Cologne town square, with reports of screaming women trying to push their attackers off them.
The police chief in Cologne said the perpetrators appeared to be of "Arab or North African" origin, prompting right-wing groups to condemn the government for its welcoming stance towards refugees fleeing war in Syria and elsewhere.