Men wielding batons assaulted a man dressed in black on Thursday morning in Sheung Shui, in scenes reminiscent of previous gang attacks against pro-democracy demonstrators.
At around 11:30am, more than 10 men were filmed pummelling a person cowering outside North District Town Hall in Lung Wan Street, Sheung Shui. The victim was later taken to North District Hospital and was reported to be in a stable condition.
Footage shot by Spark Youthmedia also showed a man detaining a young woman dressed in black. He was seen holding onto the woman’s collar with one hand, and throwing a brick with his other hand.
The media outlet later interviewed two women who claimed to have “narrowly escaped” being kidnapped by the baton-wielding men. One woman – who said she was the person depicted in the video – said she managed to break free after ditching her jacket.
The assailants wielding rods and batons displayed no identification, with some wearing face masks. In the aftermath, reporters at the scene discovered a silver metal rod and its pouch left on the ground.
Police deny involvement
In their Thursday press conference, police denied that the assailants were undercover officers despite the presence of retractable batons. Since October, off-duty police officers have been given permission to carry retractable batons and pepper spray.
“The model of their batons is completely different from the ones we use,” said Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung. “I stress that [the assailants] were not plainclothes officers.”
Kong added that the police received a report about the incident at 11:51am, but the gang fled before officers arrived. No arrests had been made as of Friday morning.
As for the women who were grabbed, Kong said that the police would need the victims to come forward in order for the investigation to progress, but had not received reports yet.
Sheung Shui has become a volatile neighbourhood after a 70-year-old cleaner was fatally hit in the head during a violent conflict on Wednesday. The man was apparently caught in the crossfire when two opposing groups threw bricks at each other. He succumbed to his injuries on Thursday night.
Following the attacks on Thursday morning, riot police deployed in force in Sheung Shui, sparking further confrontations between officers and local residents that continued late into the night.
Police fired pepper spray at around 5:30pm and tear gas after 7pm, as crowds gathered outside the Sheung Shui Centre shopping mall. Officers also claimed to have discovered around 20 suspected petrol bombs in the vicinity of Sheung Shui Garden.
Yuen Long pro-government march
Separately, over 50 people marched in Yuen Long in favour of tougher policing, and to express support for the Hong Kong government.
The marchers wore armbands which read “Good citizen of Hong Kong,” and held placards declaring their affiliation to the Dongjiang Column – a guerrilla unit that fought the Japanese invasion during WWII.
They shouted slogans such as “support the police,” “punish rioters” and “reasonable to open fire.” The march concluded outside the Yuen Long Police Station at around 4pm.
Despite the event not receiving police permission, according to Ming Pao, no officers stopped the marchers from taking over part of Castle Peak Road, the main thoroughfare of the district.
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