Hong Kong police confirmed that an officer fired live ammunition on Sunday to deter protesters.
Thousands marched in a “global anti-totalitarianism” protest despite the lack of police approval, but the afternoon devolved into high-speed clashes and mass arrests across Hong Kong Island.
Police said that some officers were “surrounded and attacked” by a large group of protesters while executing their duties near Wan Chai MTR station.
“With their lives under serious threat, an officer fired one warning shot into the sky to protect their own safety,” the force said in a statement.
— 明周 Ming Pao Weekly (@MPWeekly) September 29, 2019
A photo from Ming Pao showed an officer holding a gun while dressed in a t-shirt, jeans and wearing a balaclava which covered his face. He was among a group of at least five men who did not display any police identification. The force did not confirm whether undercover officers dressed as protesters were deployed on Sunday.
The Hospital Authority announced that as of Monday morning, 48 have been hospitalised due to the previous day’s clashes, with one woman in serious condition.
Local media reported that over 100 arrests had been made, citing sources. HKFP has approached the police for comment.
On Sunday, demonstrators and police fought street battles in multiple districts on Hong Kong Island as officers deployed water cannon, pepper spray, tear gas and projectiles. Protesters threw Molotov, bricks and other hard objects at police, setting fire to makeshift barricades as they retreated.
Riot police conducted mass arrests outside the government headquarters and Admiralty’s Pacific Place on Sunday afternoon, with footage showing some officers violently subduing protesters. The crackdown led to at least one protester of them to lose consciousness.
As night fell, some protesters smashed up an empty taxi under the Canal Road Flyover in Causeway Bay.
The driver was accused of driving his vehicle towards a group of journalists earlier in the day, but he was later escorted away by police.
There were also reports of scuffles between pro-democracy protesters and a middle-aged man in a white shirt nearby. Police eventually fired tear gas in the area to disperse the crowd of protesters and onlookers.
Meanwhile, crowds gathered again in Mong Kok near the neighbourhood police station in protest.
The police station, as well as the adjacent Prince Edward MTR station, have been the target of demonstrations since August 31, when riot police stormed the station and used force, resulting in injuries to passengers.
Police fired multiple beanbag rounds at around 12:30am, after protesters threw Molotov cocktails and shouted slogans. Multiple arrests were made.
On Sunday night, the government strongly condemned “radical protesters” who “completely disregard law and order and whose acts seriously undermine social order.”
“A number of radical protesters had gone on a rampage since the afternoon, vandalising numerous public property and the facilities of several MTR stations. They set fires at various places, which were fierce at one point, and hurled petrol bombs on the streets as well as into a MTR station and at the Mong Kok police station, posing a grave threat to police officers, MTR staff and members of the public at the scene,” a spokesperson said.
Protests in Hong Kong have entered its 17th week, which first began with large-scale peaceful protests in June against a bill that would have enabled extraditions to China. The demonstrations have evolved into sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment, democracy and alleged police brutality.
Multiple protests have been planned for China’s National Day on October 1, though police had denied permission for a rally to take place.
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