Police fire live rounds, wounding a protester, in fresh clashes

November 11, 2019 14:25
A still image from a social media video shows a police officer aiming his gun at a protester in Sai Wan Ho on Monday morning. Photo: Cupid Producer via Reuters

Police fired live rounds during a clash on Monday morning, seriously wounding at least one person, as anti-government protesters took to the streets in multiple parts of Hong Kong in extended confrontations from the weekend.

In most serious incident, a young man was shot at close range by an officer during a street battle in Sai Wan Ho on Hong Kong Island, video footage showed.  

As per media reports, police fired live round shots just before 8 am in an area at the intersection of Shing On Street and Tai Shek Street.

According to some reports, a traffic police officer fired three live round shots during a confrontation with masked demonstrators who were trying to disrupt traffic in the area.

Online footage showed a protester lying injured on the ground, and another demonstrator being subdued in a violent fashion.

On the ground, bloodstains were seen, as the two black-clad protesters were reined in. One of the demonstrators received a gunshot in the torso, causing him to collapse onto the ground.

The injured protesters were both sent to hospital where they are receiving medical attention.

The man who was shot in the torso, said to be 21 years in age, was in a critical condition on Monday afternoon after undergoing surgery.

The patient was transferred to the intensive care unit at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, which was heavily guarded by armed officers, after the surgery.

Police said in a Facebook post that in the wake of “rioters’ extensive illegal acts”, the force has “responded with dispersal and arrest operations.”

During a law enforcement operation, an officer “has discharged his service revolver, [and] one male was shot,” it said.

Apart from the Sai Wan Ho incident, police officers drew "their service arms from their holsters" during operations in Sha Tin and Tung Chung, according to the post.

"Online rumours stated that Police management have ordered frontline officers to recklessly use their firearms in today’s operations. Police clarifies that this allegation is totally false and malicious. Police has strict guidelines and orders regarding the use of firearms. All Police officers are required to justify their enforcement actions," the force said in the Facebook post.

Police said they "appeal to radical protestors to be calm and rational. Protestors should stop all acts that threaten others’ safety and obstruct Police’s lawful execution of duty."

As news of the police firing live rounds and striking a person at close range did the rounds online, there was much anger among the youth, raising the prospect of further intense conflicts and violent street battles.

On Monday, traffic was seriously affected in multiple districts in Hong Kong, with clashes between police and protesters seen in different areas in the city.

Protesters blocked streets and roads in multiple districts, leading to transport chaos, amid calls for strike action as passions were running high following the death last week of a student protester who fell from a height during a police dispersal operation.

MTR operations were affected on Monday morning as protesters disrupted train services and blocked roads across the city.

As of 2 pm, service between Fo Tan Station and Lo Wu Station and Lok Ma Chau Station was suspended on the East Rail Line.

On the Tseung Kwan O Line, service between Yau Tong Station and Po Lam Station and LOHAS Park Station was halted.

On the Kwun Tong Line, service between Yau Tong and Tiu Keng Leng Station was also shut.

Some MTR stations, including Sai Wan Ho, Kwai Hing, Kwai Fong, Ma On Shan and Heng On, were shut, putting tens of thousands of commuters at inconvenience.

Meanwhile, classes have been suspended at all universities in the city. Clashes were reported from some campuses including the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the University of Hong Kong.

The Vocational Training Council (VTC) announced cancellation of all classes/examinations for all members of the VTC on Monday.

In a press release issued on Monday morning, the Labour Department “urged employers to make flexible work arrangements for staff having regard to traffic and road conditions occurring during the day."

“For staff who cannot report to work on time on account of conditions in road traffic or public transport services, employers should give due consideration to the circumstances of individual employees and handle each case flexibly," a department spokesman said in the statement.

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