Molotov cocktails were yesterday thrown inside a Hong Kong metro station, but no one was injured, the government said, as pro-democracy protesters again took to the streets angry at what they believe is Beijing’s tightening grip on the territory.
The Kowloon Tong station was seriously damaged in the attack, the Hong Kong government said in a statement.
Hundreds of protesters, many young and wearing masks, were marching in Kowloon at the time and were headed to a district near the Kowloon Tong station.
About a dozen riot police took to the streets in Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui district, normally a haven for local and international shoppers, behind the marchers shortly after news of the Molotov attack.
Hong Kong’s metro has borne the brunt of protests, with stations torched and trashed, and only returned to normal operations on Friday after being completely shut down.
The metro normally carries about 5 million people a day.
Hong Kong’s protests started in opposition to a now-abandoned extradition bill, but have mushroomed in four months into a pro-democracy movement and an outlet for anger at social inequality in the territory.
The protests have plunged the territory into its worst crisis since the UK handed it back to China in 1997 and is the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) since he came to power in 2012.
Hong Kong had experienced relative calm since last weekend, when a peaceful march by tens of thousands spiraled into a night of running battles between protesters and police.
Since then there had only been small nightly protests and advocates had not flagged any major action this weekend.
A small group calling itself the “Silver-Haired Marchers” yesterday began a 48-hour sit-in at police headquarters, describing themselves as “old, but not obsolete.”
“Whilst we may not be able to fight alongside the young protesters in the front line against an unjust government, escalating police violence and indiscriminate arrests, we take it to heart to uphold the core values of Hong Kong and defend the future of our younger generations,” it said in a statement.
Colonial-era emergency laws were introduced a week ago banning masks at public rallies, sparking some of the worst violence since the protests started. Protesters use masks to shield their identities.
However, hundreds of people, including schoolchildren and office workers, have since defied the ban and wore masks.
A group of protesters planned a “mask party” yesterday night.
Hong Kong police, once praised as “Asia’s finest,” are also facing a crisis of confidence amid the worsening political tensions.
Protesters accuse them of using excessive force, a charge police deny, and two protesters have been shot and wounded during skirmishes with police.
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