Gun-toting officer was in fear for his life, HK Police say after more extradition bill clashes

01-Aug-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A policeman pointed a shotgun at a protesting crowd on Tuesday night in fear for his life, after he was surrounded and had his helmet snatched, the force has said.

The sergeant aimed the weapon, loaded with beanbag rounds, during clashes in which 23 other officers were assaulted and splashed with corrosive liquid, it added.

Police were also investigating an attack near Tin Shui Wai Police Station in the small hours of Wednesday, when someone in a car with fake licence plates let off fireworks at hundreds of people gathering outside the complex, injuring six.

Hundreds of anti-government protesters surrounded the Tin Shui Wai and Kwai Chung police stations for hours from Tuesday evening, with clashes breaking out at the latter, sparking the gun incident.

The police force, suffering soured relations with the public amid a running political crisis, issued two statements to condemn violence at the two protests, stressing that it had the ability to maintain social order.

The Kwai Chung clashes happened as hundreds of protesters gathered at the police station and waited for 44 suspects charged with rioting to be released on bail ahead of court appearances on Wednesday.

In a statement, the force gave its own account how tensions there escalated.

It said that at 9.30pm, when two police vehicles left the station, protesters threw corrosive liquid at officers nearby.

An hour later, some officers were sent to Kwai Fong MTR station, where there was a report of an assault. As they returned to the station, the statement read, “two officers were surrounded by a big group of radical protesters, who hurled objects and launched attacks”.

“One of them was assaulted by many people. In order to protect his life and personal safety, he raised a long gun loaded with beanbag rounds as a caution,” it continued. “The officer also had his helmet snatched.”

To protect his life and personal safety, [the officer] raised a long gun loaded with beanbag rounds as a caution

Police statement

The force said 24 officers were assaulted or had corrosives thrown at them in the ensuing fracas, with five sent to hospital.

Those facing riot charges were the first batch of protesters prosecuted since a series of demonstrations erupted in Hong Kong in June against the now-shelved extradition bill.

The bill would have allowed the city to transfer suspects to jurisdictions with which it lacks a formal extradition agreement, including mainland China, where critics say fair trials are not guaranteed.

The Kwai Chung clashes were followed by the conflicts in Tin Shui Wai, where protesters at the police station demanded the release of three men arrested for criminal damage at a “Lennon Wall” peppered with protest-related memos.

In a separate statement, police said they received multiple reports of someone driving past the police station and shooting several fireworks at the crowd.

Five of the injured were admitted to hospital and later discharged. Another refused to go to hospital.

A police source said the car’s number plate had been stolen from another car.


Category: Hong Kong

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