Hong Kong police say officer fired gunshot in protest clashes

Hong Kong police say officer fired gunshot in protest clashes

Hong Kong police point their guns at protesters
Police officers point their guns at protesters in Tseun Wan in Hong Kong on Aug 25, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Lillian Suwanrumpha)

HONG KONG: A Hong Kong police officer fired at least one gunshot Sunday (Aug 25), the first time a live round has been used during three months of protests.

Violent clashes broke out between protesters and police in Tsuen Wan, around 10km from central Hong Kong, after a rally at a nearby sports stadium attracted thousands of people.

In one instance, several police officers drew their sidearms, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

"According to my understanding, just now a gunshot was fired by a colleague," Superintendent Leung Kwok Win told the press.

"My initial understanding was that it was a uniformed policeman who fired his gun."

READ: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

In the incident, six uniformed officers were confronted by a large group of protesters armed with metal poles, reported CNA's Afifah Ariffin. Officers drew their revolvers and one was reported to have fired a shot.

Speaking to reporters after the incident, the police said an officer had fired into the air because he felt his life was threatened.

It was unclear where the shot was aimed.

Police fire tear gas at protesters in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong
Police fire tear gas during a protest in Tsuen Wan district of Hong Kong on Aug 25, 2019. (Photo: AFP / Philip FONG)

The financial hub has been gripped by mass rallies that were initially against a proposed extradition Bill to China, but have spun into a wider pro-democracy movement targeting the pro-Beijing government.

Earlier Sunday, after thousands of people marched peacefully in pouring rain, a group of hardcore protesters erected makeshift roadblocks and threw bricks and Molotov cocktails at riot police.

After firing tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowds, police drove water cannon vehicles onto the streets for the first time during the protests, unfurling signs warning demonstrators they would deploy the jets if they did not leave.

The jets were later fired down from the moving trucks down a road towards a crowd of protesters who ran away.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Police had previously said the vehicles, complete with surveillance cameras and multiple spray nozzles, would only be used in the event of a "large-scale public disturbance".

Source: AFP/CNA/nc