HONG KONG: Hong Kong police defended their actions on Tuesday (Nov 12), a day after an officer shot a protester at close range in the abdomen.
Speaking at a press conference, police said the officer had been confronted by a group of protesters who attempted to steal his gun.
"As we gathered the statement from the man who was injured (by gun shot), we found out that our colleague did not only face threat from one person, instead it was a group of people with organised plan attempting to steal the gun," said senior superintendent of organised crime and triad bureau Li Kwai-wah.
"In a situation like this, we believe our police is reacting according to the guideline, to protect themselves as well as the people around them."
Hong Kong has been embroiled in months of anti-government protests over police brutality and meddling by Beijing in the freedoms guaranteed under the "one country, two systems" formula put in place when the territory returned to China in 1997.
What started as mostly peaceful rallies have turned increasingly violent, with Monday seeing some of the worst violence in the former British colony in decades after a protester was shot at close range and a man was set on fire.
Police first began using live rounds as warning shots in August and have shot an 18-year-old protester and a 14-year-old, both of whom survived.
"RANDOM, RECKLESS" VIOLENCE
Protests have showed no sign of abating on Tuesday as clashes at university campuses continued into the night with barricades set ablaze at and tear gas whizzing overhead.
Police condemned the "random" and "reckless" violence at the press conference.
"Over the past two days, our society has been pushed to the brink of a total breakdown as rioters went on a rampage in residential neighbourhoods and university campuses,” said senior superintendent of police public relations Kong Wing-cheung.
“As many as 50 locations were damaged or obstructed by rioters. Over 160 sets of traffic lights were battered and are still under repairs.”
Kong accused protesters of committing “insane” acts such as throwing trash bicycles and large objects on empty train tracks, hanging trash on overhead power lines, disrupting train services. Protesters had also put needles and sharp objects on roads to cause punctures on car and bus tyres.
“What's worse, mass mobs (have wreaked) havoc in different universities. In the most alarming incident, rioters threw chairs and traffic cones from a footbridge onto the moving vehicles underneath, near the University of Hong Kong," said Kong.
He added that one chair struck a motorcyclist, causing him to lose his balance in an act that could have claimed the motorcyclist’s life.
“This shows rioters’ violence is not only reckless but also random, anyone could had been the next victim without any prior warning,” said Kong, adding that at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, protesters had used attacked police officers using bows and arrows in addition to bricks and petrol bombs.
"Again, using such offensive weapons to launch attack can be compared to murder," he said.
Police arrested 287 people on Monday, with ages ranging from 12 year old to 82 years old. Out of those arrested, 187 were students, police said.
"We are very alarmed by the trend that more and more young students are participating in these rioting acts,” said Koh.
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