Hundreds of masked assailants dressed in white have assaulted residents, protesters, journalists and a lawmaker in Yuen Long, hours after an anti-extradition law march ended.
The group used bamboo sticks and other weapons to attack people in the area and in the West Rail Line station, injuring Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, who was seen bleeding from his mouth in a social media live stream.
Police officers were not visibly present when the skirmish occurred.
A photo circulated online by the Civil Human Rights Front, which organised the rally attended by “430,000” earlier in the day, showed a person with multiple bloody lashes on his back.
The Front accused the police of failing to take actions in Yuen Long while people were being attacked and instead, unnecessarily firing tear gas at protesters in Sheung Wan.
“Real thugs have attacked passersby, a journalist and a lawmaker, badly injuring them, but the police have failed to enforce the law. This has angered us greatly,” the statement read.
The group said certain “powerful authorities” have been using “thugs” to attack protesters since the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. “Hong Kong people must unite to oppose personal violence and structural violence,” they added.
Stand News reporter Gwyneth Ho said she was left bleeding and injured with swelling at the back of the head and slight dizziness after she was attacked. Ho was sent to hospital to receive treatment.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association said a male reporter was beaten and left bleeding in his mouth.
The men also took a reporter’s TV camera and destroyed it, the press freedom watchdog said.
Police in riot gear arrived at Yuen Long station at around 11:30pm.
The MTR announced at around 11pm that West Rail Line trains will not stop at Yuen Long because of the crowds gathering. Train services resumed at 11:25pm.
In a statement, a government spokesperson condemned the violent scenes: “This is absolutely unacceptable to Hong Kong as a society that observes the rule of law. The SAR Government strongly condemns any violence and will seriously take enforcement actions.”
Meanwhile, in a widely circulated online video, pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho could be seen applauding and giving a “thumbs up” to people dressed in white. He also shook hands with two men who held small Hong Kong bauhinia flags. When a man told Ho, “you are my idol,” the lawmaker replied: “All of you are my heroes.”
Earlier, Yuen Long District Councillor To Ka-lun wrote in a Facebook post that he had received a complaint from a resident, who said he had called the police for help. However, he was told to “not go out into the streets” if he was afraid, To said.