17 arrested, explosives, devices seized in police raids

March 09, 2020 14:05
A man is taken away by police officers from a unit of Kwong Lai House at Kwong Fuk Estate in Tai Po in the early hours of Sunday. Photo: Screenshot of PSHK footage via i-Cable News

A total of 17 people were arrested on Sunday morning on suspicion of being linked to bomb threats over the past two months.

Senior Superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah of the Police Organized Crime and Triad Bureau told reporters that the suspects – 12 men and five women, aged 21 to 53 – were believed to belong to the same group, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

All of them were arrested for conspiracy to cause explosions “likely to endanger life or to cause serious injury to property”, Li said.

The explosives were found in three places in three cases in late January and early February-a men’s toilet at the Accident and Emergency Department of Caritas Medical Centre on Jan. 27, the Shenzhen Bay Control Point on Jan. 28 and Lo Wu MTR Station of the East Rail Line on Feb. 2. They were connected to remote-controlled devices.

In each of the three incidents, there were online messages either saying an incident would happen or claiming responsibility for the incident. None of them resulted in casualties.

Police have said the devices, if detonated, were capable of causing injury or death, RTHK reported.

Following investigations, police raided several buildings, or a total of 22 units, in different areas in an operation that began late Saturday night and ended early Sunday morning.

In a commercial building on Bedford Road in Tai Kok Tsui, officers seized 2.6 tons of different kinds of chemicals, which were believed intended to be manufactured into powerful homemade explosives.

Officers also seized three semi-finished improvised explosive devices, each containing 1.5 kilograms of explosives, and three remote-controlled devices in the same building.

When officers tried to search a unit on the 21st floor of Kwong Lai House at Kwong Fuk Estate, a public housing estate in Tai Po, they were not only refused entry but also besieged by a number of residents, while Tai Po district councilors Herman Yiu Kwan-ho and Dalu Lin Kok-cheung were also at the scene trying to understand the police action.

At around 4 a.m. on Sunday, a large group of riot police cordoned off the unit as well as the entrance and exit of Kwong Lai House, before a man whose head was covered with black cloth was seen being taken away by plainclothes officers.

Arrests were also made near a residential block of Yau Lai Estate, a public housing estate in Yau Tong, and inside Tsing Yi MTR Station, sources said.

Police said they were looking for other suspects, thus more arrests are likely to be made.

Li said police intelligence showed that the suspects intended to use the explosives to target police officers during public activities.

He also assailed the suspects for endangering other people’s safety by making and storing explosives in a commercial building.

Asked about the raid on Kwong Fuk Estate, Li said its residents and the district councilors should reflect on whether their actions were responsible.

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One of the three semi-finished improvised explosive devices seized in a commercial building in Tai Kok Tsui on Sunday. Photo: HK Police Force/Facebook