By Corey Charlton
Austrian officials are investigating claims that underage asylum seekers have been sexually assaulting three schoolgirls for months without anybody taking action.
The four boys were given places at a school where it is claimed they started assaulting the girls, but it was only in the wake of the sex attacks in Cologne that one victim finally complained to police.
Police in Salzburg say they are looking now into accusations of sexual assault, grievous bodily harm and making threats.
The three youngsters from Afghanistan, aged 14, 15 and 16, as well as a Syrian boy aged 16, have all been suspended after the school headmistress made a complaint to police.
According to Kronen Zeitung, the girls at Schlossstrasse Middle School were repeatedly groped but the final straw came when there was an attack so severe it forced action.
Police said the allegations dated back to last November and involved verbal abuse and suggestive comments, as well as physical violence and assaults during which the girls were touched.
It is alleged the 14-year-old victim was often hit by the 15-year-old boy, including an incident where she was hit so badly from behind that she smashed her head onto a desk.
She was attacked again Wednesday morning by the same boy smashing her against a locker so hard that the police were called.
They took the victim and the accused to the station where the full story then came out. After hearing of her ordeal, police then expanded the investigation.
Local education officials in the city played down the incident however, saying it was nothing more than a few slaps in the corridor and a few obscene comments that were speedily dealt with.
The three asylum seekers as well as the fourth boy, who has already been given asylum, have been suspended.
It comes as the fallout from waves of sex attacks, many of which were perpetrated by migrants, continues across Continental Europe.
After hundreds of women reported being attacked in Cologne, Germany, during New Year celebrations, reports of similar crimes emerged from a number of other main cities.
Authorities and media now stand accused of covering up the incidents because they feared it could cause anti-immigration sentiments.