A homemade, remote-controlled bomb intended to “kill or to harm” riot control officers was detonated as they deployed against renewed violence in Hong Kong over the weekend, police said Monday, in a further escalation of destructive street battles gripping the business hub.
The “loud thud” Sunday night close to riot officers who had been clearing away a protester-built roadblock marked the first known use of an explosive device during protests that started in June over a contested extradition bill and have snowballed into an anti-government, anti-police and anti-China movement.
It exploded less than 2 metres away from a police vehicle. We have reason to believe that the bomb was meant to target police officers,” Deputy Commissioner Tang Ping-keung said at a news conference, speaking through a translator. But despite spiraling violence and widespread vandalism and gasoline-bomb attacks by black-clad hardcore protesters, the movement is still rousing support from more moderate demonstrators.
A peaceful rally in central Hong Kong’s swanky business district Monday night drew crowds in the thousands, so large that the giant throng of singing, chanting demonstrators spilled out of a park into side streets. No casualties were reported from the detonation Sunday night on a usually busy thoroughfare in Kowloon that was among dozens of protest hotspots.
“There was a loud thud,” Chin-chiu Suryanto, an officer with the police force’s bomb-disposal unit, said through a translator. He held up a photo taken from a police vehicle dash-cam that showed a blurry spot of light, circled in yellow on the picture.
“The intent (was) to kill or to harm the police officers at the scene,” Suryanto said. The “improvised explosive device that was controlled by a mobile phone” was concocted with a “highly effective” explosive and placed in plants, he said. He likened its use to “terrorist events” seen elsewhere in the world.
Switching tactics, small groups of hardcore protesters wreaked havoc by popping up Sunday in multiple locations across the city, overwhelming the fanned-out police deployment. Violence stretched into the night. Police said they arrested 201 people, aged 14 to 62, on Saturday and Sunday. They said 12 officers were injured, one of them slashed in the neck with a sharp object, severing a nerve.
Tang, the deputy commissioner, said two plainclothes officers were beaten bloody by rioters. A black-clad protester was also caught on video dropping a riot officer with a flying kick. Four men were arrested in those cases, Tang said. Rioters also set a police vehicle aflame with a gasoline bomb and threw more than 20 gas bombs at a police station. They are crazy,” Tang said.
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Source: The Citizen
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