Hong Kong protests: tens of thousands defy mask ban

07/10 2019 10:45

Masked mobs smash banks, stores and bookshops associated with mainland China and trash government buildings
Most MTR stations remain closed on Monday as rail operator says more time needed to repair damage

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong protesters defied a new mask ban for a third straight day as a radical core went on a wrecking spree across the city, vandalising mainland China-linked property, setting fires and targeting police with noticeably bigger petrol bombs, and engaging in bloody fist fights.

The masked mobs smashed banks, stores and bookshops associated with mainland China, trashed government buildings and started fires at the exits of several MTR stations as they continued their attack on the city’s railway operator for allegedly aiding police in their clearance operations.

After a total shutdown for 1½ days, the rail operator reopened half of its stations at midmorning on Sunday, only to then close four stations and suspend the services of seven lines later after it became a target yet again. It closed the entire network at 9pm.

The majority of MTR stations remained closed on Monday morning, including Admiralty, Prince Edward and Mong Kok. The whole system would be shut again at 6pm to “allow more time for repair”, the MTR Corporation said.

In Wan Chai on Sunday, after a tense face-off and an exchange of petrol bombs and tear gas, police conducted sweeps and detained groups of protesters. Many were then unmasked, revealing their youthful appearance, before they had their hands zip-tied as they were escorted onto a coach that took them away.

For the first time, the People’s Liberation Army barracks in Kowloon East issued a warning in Cantonese in the early evening after demonstrators shone laser lights as they walked past the buildings en route to another location. A yellow flag went up at the top of the building warning the demonstrators as several men in uniform were seen filming the protesters and a floodlight shone on them. Nothing more came of the tense moment, however, as both sides soon cleared from the scene.

In Sham Shui Po, a taxi driver in his 60s rammed into a crowd of protesters and injured a woman. Angry masked groups then pulled the driver out of the car and beat him, before he was later rescued by firefighters. Beaten unconscious, his face and head were covered in blood while the windows of the taxi were smashed.

Local actress Celine Ma, with blood on her face and chest, also said she was beaten by protesters because she was filming them attacking a Bank of China branch nearby.

The Hospital Authority said that, as of 11pm, 11 people were admitted to hospitals, with three in a serious condition and five stable. The condition of two was unknown, while one was discharged.