HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong police on Monday defended their actions and the dearth of arrests after opposition lawmakers mentioned police had failed to guard a practice filled with anti-government protesters from a triad gangster assault on Sunday.
Males in white T-shirts and carrying poles are seen in Yuen Lengthy after attacking anti-extradition invoice demonstrators at a practice station in Hong Kong, China, July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
The assault got here in an evening of violence that opened new fronts in Hong Kong’s widening political disaster over an extradition invoice to ship folks to China for trial.
Some politicians and activists have lengthy linked Hong Kong’s shadowy community of triad prison gangs to political intimidation and violence lately.
On Sunday night time, males in white t-shirts, some armed with poles, flooded into the agricultural Yuen Lengthy station and stormed a practice, attacking passengers, in response to footage taken by commuters and Democratic Get together lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting.
Eye-witnesses mentioned they appeared to focus on black-shirted passengers who had been at an anti-government march and the assault got here after a number of thousand activists surrounded China’s consultant workplace within the metropolis, later clashing with police.
Lam, who was injured within the assault, mentioned he was offended a couple of gradual police response after he alerted them to the difficulty, government-funded broadcaster RTHK reported.
Lam mentioned it took police greater than an hour to reach after he alerted them they usually had failed to guard the general public, permitting the triads to run rampant. The get together is now investigating.
“Is Hong Kong now permitting triads to do what they need, beating up folks on the road with weapons?,” he requested reporters.
One authorities employee, aged 22, described chaotic scenes as folks ran in disarray off the practice, regardless of phrase that gangsters had been attacking folks on the road as effectively.
“Folks began to run in all instructions, simply avoiding the gangsters,” he mentioned.
Police mentioned early on Monday that they had not made any arrests on the station or throughout a follow-up search of a close-by village however had been nonetheless investigating.
Yau Nai-keung, Yuen Lengthy assistant district police commander, advised reporters that an preliminary police patrol needed to anticipate extra reinforcements given a state of affairs involving greater than 100 folks.
Teams of males in white had been seen by eye-witnesses with poles and bamboo staves at a close-by village however Yau mentioned police noticed no weapons after they arrived.
“We will’t say you’ve an issue since you are wearing white and we’ve to arrest you. We are going to deal with them pretty regardless of which camp they’re in,” Yau mentioned.
Hong Kong’s anti-triad police items in 2014 investigated the function of triad gangs attacking protesters on the streets of Mong Kok in the course of the ‘Occupy’ pro-democracy demonstrations that shut down elements of the town for 79 days.
Police have but to reply to Reuters’ questions whether or not they’re particularly investigating triad involvement in Sunday’s violence.
POLICE FIRE RUBBER BULLETS
Hong Kong has been rocked by a collection of typically violent protests for greater than two months in its most critical disaster since Britain handed the Asian monetary hub again to Chinese language rule in 1997.
Protesters are demanding the complete withdrawal of a invoice to permit folks to be extradited to mainland China for trial, the place the courts are managed by the Communist Get together, fearing it could undermine Hong Kong’s judicial independence.
They’re additionally demanding unbiased inquiries into using police pressure towards protesters.
On Sunday police fired rubber bullets and tear gasoline to disperse activists on the sting of Hong Kong’s glittering monetary district after that they had fled China’s Liaison Workplace, its principal consultant department within the metropolis.
The Chinese language authorities, together with workplace director Wang Zhimin, condemned the acts, which noticed indicators and a state image daubed with graffiti and eggs thrown towards partitions and home windows.
Wang mentioned broken image had been changed in a single day.
The unrest in Hong Kong marks the best in style problem to Chinese language chief Xi Jinping since he got here to energy in 2012.
The Hospital Authority mentioned 45 folks had been injured within the Yuen Lengthy assault, with one in a important situation. Some 13 folks had been injured after the clashes on Hong Kong island, one critically, the authority mentioned.
Some police had been injured within the clashes after protesters hurled bricks, smoke grenades and petrol bombs, mentioned a police assertion.
Reporting by Donny Kwok, James Pomfret, Felix Tam, Vimvam Tong and Greg Torode; Modifying by Michael Perry.