HONG KONG: Clashes intensified across Hong Kong on Tuesday night (Oct 1) after a police officer shot a protester as the city was lashed by its worst unrest of the year.
In Tsuen Wan district, a police officer unloaded his weapon at close range into a young man after his unit was attacked by protesters armed with poles and umbrellas, videos filmed by student reporters showed.
Police said the officer feared for his life when he fired the weapon, hitting an 18-year-old man.
"At around 4pm in Tai Ho Road, Tsuen Wan, a large group of group of rioters were attacking police officers. Despite warnings from the police, the assailants still continued the violent attacks," said the police in a Facebook video.
"The police officers' lives were under serious threat. To save his own life and his colleagues', the officer fired a live shot at the assailant," police said, adding that the protester was injured in the left shoulder area.
A video of the man who was reportedly shot has surfaced on Facebook. He is seen lying on the ground, saying: "Send me to the hospital. My chest is hurting."
The wounded protester received first aid from officers before paramedics arrived and took him to Princess Margaret Hospital, police added.
Medical authorities said a total of 31 people were admitted to hospital, two in a critical condition.
A Hospital Authority spokeswoman would not confirm to AFP if one of the critical patients was the man who had been shot.
Two videos posted online showed the shooting and its aftermath.
About half a dozen riot police can be seen clashing with around 12 masked protesters, some of whom were using umbrellas and metal poles to strike the officers.
One officer runs into frame with his sidearm drawn.
He kicks a protester before firing at near point black range into the chest of a protester with a metal pole in his hand. A gunshot can be heard as the pistol rears upwards.
The protester stumbles backwards and then falls over a police officer who has been knocked to the ground as the rest of the demonstrators run away.
A second video, filmed by Hong Kong University's Campus TV, showed the same incident from a different angle.
Footage filmed shortly afterwards by local broadcaster Stand News showed police officers treating the prone man who had an oxygen mask on his face and his T-shirt cut open, traces of blood on his chest.
Paramedics later arrived on scene and placed the man, who was conscious, on a stretcher.
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It was the first such shooting in nearly four months of increasingly violent protests and threatened to strip the spotlight from China's carefully-choreographed birthday party, designed to underscore its status as a global superpower.
While President Xi Jinping took salutes from some 15,000 troops in the capital, protesters in Hong Kong threw eggs at his portrait, with tens of thousands of people defying police orders to disperse.
The unrest on Tuesday was the worst of the year and the most widespread, as violence escalated from Hong Kong island to across the harbour in Kowloon and beyond to the New Territories.
Running battles raged for hours across multiple locations, with some hardcore protesters hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails, while police responded for the most part with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.
Many of the fights in the city were especially fierce with police in one district having corrosive liquid thrown at them and officers in another area retreating into a town hall from projectile-throwing crowds.
Burning barricades sent a pall of black smoke over the city, a regional hub for some of the world's biggest banks.
"Rioters have damaged the government offices in various districts, smashing up glass panes and facilities," police said on Tuesday evening.
"Another group of rioters have stormed various MTR stations and damaged facilities therein. Rioters even hurled numerous petrol bombs into train compartments in Tsuen Wan MTR station and onto platforms in Tai Wai MTR station."
Protesters had also attempted to burn light poles and automatic teller machines, with some beating up bystanders in various districts, police added.
The violence cast a shadow over the lavish parade in Beijing where tanks, new nuclear missiles and a supersonic drone were paraded as Xi and other top officials - including Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam - watched from a rostrum overlooking Tiananmen Square.
The event was meant to showcase China's journey from a poor nation broken by war to the world's second largest economy.The European Union called for "de-escalation and restraint" in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
"In light of the continuing unrest and violence in Hong Kong, the European Union continues to stress that dialogue, de-escalation and restraint are the only way forward," EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters.
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the use of live ammunition by Hong Kong police was disproportionate.
"Whilst there is no excuse for violence, the use of live ammunition is disproportionate, and only risks inflaming the situation," Raab said in a statement.
"This incident underlines the need for a constructive dialogue to address the legitimate concerns of the people of Hong Kong. We need to see restraint and a de-escalation from both protesters and the Hong Kong authorities."
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