HONG KONG: Hong Kong police have arrested 420 people in connection with protests since Jun 9, amid escalating violence in demonstrations that have rocked the former British colony and plunged it into its worst political crisis in decades.
Police have also fired 1,000 rounds of tear gas and about 160 rubber bullets since Jun 9, they said in a press conference on Monday (Aug 5).
The news comes as another strike on Monday plunged Hong Kong into fresh chaos, paralysing transport and bringing the city to an unprecedented standstill for much of the morning.
Hong Kong police acting chief superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch Yu Hoi-kwan said at a media conference on Monday that 139 officers have sustained injuries, with two still hospitalised for serious injuries, including finger and bone fractures.
READ: Police fire tear gas at Hong Kong protesters amid fresh clashes as strike brings city to standstill
She added that protesters have also shot metal balls at police officers and thrown petrol bombs, bricks and hard objects at police stations. In one incident, they even set fire to a trolley and pushed it towards the police officers, she said.
"Some of them took justice into their own hands," said Ms Yu, adding that the police have seized arrows and bats at protest sites.
"These acts pose a serious safety act to the public," she said.
Moving forward, Ms Yu said that the police will hold a press conference at 4pm every day.
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She also emphasised that the violence poses a serious threat to innocent citizens and have seriously affected the wider public and road safety as protesters have damaged traffic lights, and blocking main roads and a key tunnel.
"We are aware that on some online platforms, netizens propagated terrorist acts, violent acts, possession of short knives for hurting or even murdering police officers," she said.
"Such online comments are deeply worrying and must not be supported or promoted ... If we continue to tolerate and turn a blind eye to lawless behaviour, the consequences will be undesirable for our city. Society as a whole will have to suffer," she said.
Riot police on Monday fired rounds of tear gas at protesters in several locations across the city, in the third consecutive day of clashes in Hong Kong.
Tear gas was also deployed on Saturday when small groups of protesters in Tsim Sha Tsui besieged a police station and used a giant slingshot to fire bricks at the building.