Hong Kong on 'verge of extreme danger' as police arrest 269 over National Day violence

Hong Kong on 'verge of extreme danger' as police arrest 269 over National Day violence

Police arrest a protester in the Wanchai area of Hong Kong on Oct 1, 2019
Police arrest a protester in the Wanchai area of Hong Kong on Oct 1, 2019, as the city observes the National Day holiday to mark the 70th anniversary of communist China's founding. (Photo: AFP/Mark Ralston)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong is on the “verge of extreme danger”, police warned on Wednesday (Oct 2), after a day of violence that resulted in more than 200 people arrested and a teenage protester being shot.

Outlining the extent of Tuesday's violence, police revealed they used a record 1,400 rounds of tear gas, 900 rubber bullets, 230 sponge rounds, 190 bean bag rounds and five live rounds as warning shots.

In comparison, officers fired 1,000 tear gas canisters in the first two months of the protests.

On Wednesday, officers told reporters that 269 people were arrested during the rallies on Tuesday, with some as young as 12 years old and the oldest being 71 years old. That is the largest daily toll since the demonstrations started.

READ: China's Xi Jinping vows to uphold 'one country, two systems' in Hong Kong

Police arrest a protester in the Wanchai area of Hong Kong on Oct 1, 2019
Police arrest a protester in the Wanchai area of Hong Kong on Oct 1, 2019, as the city observes the National Day holiday to mark the 70th anniversary of communist China's founding. (Photo: AFP/Mark Ralston)

Tuesday saw the worst clashes in Hong Kong since anti-government protests broke out in the international financial hub more than four months ago. China celebrated 70 years of Communist Party rule with a massive military parade in Beijing on the same day.

Running battles raged for hours across multiple locations as protesters hurled rocks and petrol bombs at officers and buildings. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and a water cannon.

Shops were also broken into and ransacked, police added, while demonstrators stormed closed MTR stations and threw fire bombs on platforms and in train compartments, blaming the rail operator for shutting stations at the government’s behest to stop protesters from moving.

READ: Mainland banks, pro-Beijing businesses caught in Hong Kong protest cross-hairs

"All these violent acts pose a grave danger to public safety and push Hong Kong to the verge of extreme danger," Deputy Commissioner Tang Ping-keung told reporters on Wednesday during the press conference, adding that some protesters had attacked bystanders with bricks and hard objects for holding different views.

Police said 30 officers were injured in the National Day clashes, including some who suffered chemical burns from a corrosive liquid that was thrown at them by protesters. The liquid also wounded some journalists.

Hospital authorities said more than 70 people were admitted on Tuesday.

Police said on Wednesday the officer who shot an 18-year-old protester with a live round had feared for his life and the safety of his colleagues after his squad was outnumbered and attacked by demonstrators wielding hammers, iron poles and sharpened bars. 

READ: Hong Kong office workers, schoolmates denounce police shooting of teen

Protests in Hong Kong were ignited by a now-scrapped plan to allow extraditions to the mainland, but it snowballed into a wider movement calling for more democratic freedom and police accountability.

Over the weekend, police arrested 51 people in a series of raids across Hong Kong, seizing a large number of offensive weapons and raw materials used in the manufacture of petrol bombs and other dangerous goods meant to be used during demonstrations.

On Sunday, an Indonesian journalist covering the protests was hit by a rubber bullet shot by retreating riot police as they fired in the direction of the protesters and reporters. 

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

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Source: AFP/CNA/ec(mi)

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