All Hong Kong rail services to remain suspended after protest violence: MTR

All Hong Kong rail services to remain suspended after protest violence: MTR

An anti-government protester sets a fire outside Mong Kok Mass Transit Railway station
An anti-government protester wears a mask as he sets a fire outside Mong Kok Mass Transit Railway (MTR) station during a demonstration after government's ban on face masks under emergency law, at Mong Kok, in Hong Kong, China, Oct 4, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

HONG KONG: All train services in Hong Kong including the line to the airport were suspended on Saturday (Oct 5), the city's rail operator said, after violent clashes between police and protesters saw subway stations vandalised.

"All MTR services covering the Heavy Rail including Airport Express, Light Rail and MTR bus cannot be resumed this morning," the MTR Corporation said in a statement.

"After the outbreak of violence at multiple districts, maintenance staff have to make sure of their own safety before they could travel to the damaged stations to inspect and assess the extent of damages at our stations, and to carry out repair works," the statement said, adding that the closure would be reviewed later on Saturday.

All train services were suspended on Friday amid violent protests sparked by a ban on protesters wearing face masks, as the government imposed emergency powers not used in more than half a century.

The ban was aimed at quelling nearly four months of unrest but instead sparked widespread clashes and vows of defiance, with a 14-year-old boy reportedly shot and wounded.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she made the order under the Emergency Regulations Ordinances - a sweeping colonial-era provision that allows her to bypass the legislature and make any law during a time of emergency or public danger.

"We believe that the new law will create a deterrent effect against masked violent protesters and rioters, and will assist the police" in law enforcement, Lam said on Friday.

READ: No more masks: The colonial-era law that gives Hong Kong leader sweeping powers

READ: Taiwan warns Chinese who damage 'Lennon Walls' could be barred from returning 

Hong Kong's protests were ignited by a now-scrapped plan to allow extraditions to the mainland, which fuelled fears of an erosion of liberties promised under "one country, two systems".

After Beijing and local leaders took a hard line, the demonstrations snowballed into a wider movement calling for more democratic freedoms and police accountability.

Protesters have used face masks to avoid identification and respirators to protect themselves from tear gas.

The ban came after the worst violence of the year, when China celebrated 70 years of Communist Party rule on Tuesday. During those clashes, an officer shot and wounded a teenager - the first such shooting since the demonstrations began.

The new law threatens anyone wearing masks at protests with up to one year in prison.

For one of those at Friday's march, the ban would not solve the city's woes.

"Youngsters are risking their lives," a 34-year-old office worker wearing a surgical mask, who gave her first name as Mary, told AFP.

"They don't mind being jailed for 10 years, so wearing masks is not a problem."

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

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Source: AFP/ec

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