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Clashes, sexual harassment reported at festival in Germany

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BERLIN (AP) — A big crowd of youths threw bottles at police during a festival in southwestern Germany and officers could not always control the situation, security officials said Monday. They also reported that two women were sexually harassed by three Afghan asylum-seekers and one Iraqi citizen.

Police said that many of the youths — a lot of them recent high school graduates — had been drinking. Two different groups first clashed with each other, but later united against the police at the festival in Schorndorf, near Stuttgart, on Saturday night, according to the German news agency dpa.

"The police did not always have the situation under control," police president Roland Eisele from nearby Aalen said at a press conference, adding police had to withdraw at one point and ask for additional officers from nearby towns.

Police said about 1,000 youths gathered in a town park. Some of them threw bottles at police and two police vehicles were sprayed with graffiti.

Police said earlier reports that a lot of youths with immigrant roots were involved in the confrontation were not true.

The harassment incidents included the sexual harassment of a 25-year-old woman by an Iraqi suspect, and three young Afghans who allegedly groped a 17-year-old girl. Police were investigating the allegations and said alcohol was involved in both cases, but none of the suspects was arrested.

Police announced that for the last two days of the festival on Monday and Tuesday, they would add better lighting and more staff.

In a separate incident Saturday, several young women reported a group of about a dozen drunken Afghan asylum-seekers at a festival in Boeblingen, which is also located on the outskirts of Stuttgart. The women accused the men of groping and sexually insulting them.

Police said in a written statement that some of the men, who were aged between 18 and 20, had to be handcuffed and taken to the police precinct because of their aggressive behavior toward the officers. All of them were later released, but were not allowed to return to the festival.

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