A Hong Kong police officer shot a masked protester at point-blank range while activists set another man on fire after dousing him in petrol as a fresh round of violence erupted across the city today.
The masked man was critically wounded by a gunshot in Sai Wan Ho as wild scuffles broke out this morning after the city’s 24th straight weekend of protests.
In footage broadcast live on Facebook, a Hong Kong policeman drew his weapon as he wrestled with a man at a blockaded road junction, with a second protester advancing towards them in a bid to help his comrade.
That second protester appeared to take a swipe at the officer’s pistol and just moments later the policeman opened fire at him, hitting him in the torso.
A police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to AFP today that live rounds were fired at more than one protester during rush-hour protests in Sai Wan Ho.
Police said in a statement that radical protesters had set up barricades at multiple locations across the city and warned the demonstrators to ‘stop their illegal acts immediately’.
Anson Yip, a 36-year-old Sai Wan Ho resident, said protesters were throwing rubbish to create a road block when police, possibly from the traffic department, ran to the scene.
‘They didn’t fight and the police ran and directly shot. There was three sounds, like ‘pam, pam, pam’,’ Yip said.
‘They the protesters are against the government, thatÂ´s why the police just shot them,’ he said.
A 24-year-old man, one of several office workers gathered at the scene after the shooting, said: ‘When I arrived the road was blocked and people were yelling at the police, calling them murderers.’
As shrieks pierced the air after the shooting, other demonstrators rushed at the officer who quickly fired another two rounds.
The masked demonstrator he had originally tried to arrest broke free in the struggle but a third man also went to ground as the shots were fired.
Police could later be seen detaining the two men on the ground. The man who was shot had a pool of blood next to him, his body limp and his eyes wide open as officers moved him around and tried to tie his hands. The second man was conscious and talking.
The protester who was shot, reportedly a 21-year-old university student, was having an operation in hospital where he is in a critical condition, the Hospital Authority said.
Police commander Patrick Kwok later said the protester had been trying to snatch the officer’s gun, according to Hong Kong media, adding that the student had been injured in the liver and kidney.
The rush-hour protests were a rare sign of working-hours violence following demonstrations over the weekend.
The unarmed man, reportedly 57 years old, was attacked at nearly 1pm after verbal and physical altercations with other people, according to local media.
As the group of protesters film the man on their phones, one black-clad man suddenly splashed liquid onto the man’s body and sets him on fire.
Recoiling in agony, the man tries desperately to throw off the flames in front of a horrified crowd of onlookers while the person filming the scene runs in the other direction.
Police fired tear gas and deployed a water cannon in various parts of the city on Monday and charged onto the campus of Chinese University, where students were protesting.
Tensions have soared in recent days following the death of a 22-year-old student who fell from a parking garage during police clashes last Monday.
Chow Tsz-Lok, who died on Friday, had been in a coma since he was found unconscious in a pool of blood four days earlier.
Riot police had been firing tear gas moments before he fell, and although the nature of his death remains unclear, his death has sparked further anger at alleged police brutality.
The city has seen four days of consecutive protests since the student’s death as well as tens of thousands attending mass vigils.
Using online messaging forums, activists had called for a general strike on Monday morning.
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