HONG KONG — Police fired gunshotsat protestersearly Monday, sending one man to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery, as the city’s start-of-week commute descended into turmoil after demonstrators tried to block roads and delay trains.
In footage circulating on social media, a police officer was seen firing three shots toward protesters — hitting at least one at close range — at an intersection in eastern Hong Kong island. A 21 – year-old man underwent an operation at a nearby hospital, according to the Hospital Authority, which declined to provide additional details on his condition.
Monday’s clashes created confusion for the city’s commuters who were heading to work or school. Many were left stranded at subway stations, while several universities canceled classes for the day. The disruptions continued well into the day as police spilled into the city’s Central district, an area crammed with offices and luxury retailers.
Around midday, many people in office clothes were seen running away from clouds of tear gas; they took refuge in the lobbies of nearby buildings. Some poured water into their eyes to alleviate the pain from the gas. Police made a number of arrests as crowds chanted abuse at them.
Other graphic scenes circulated online of scuffles across the city. In one video, which hasn’t been verified, a man in a green T-shirt was doused in flammable liquid and set on fire after he confronted protesters who were vandalizing a subway station. The man, who criticized them for not being Chinese, was on fire above his waistline. Another photo showed him later, topless with burns to his torso. His identity and condition are unknown.
The protests, now in their sixth month, have shown no signs of abating even after the government withdrew an extradition bill that initially sparked unrest. Weekend clashes are now commonplace as many young black-clad and masked protesters focus their anger on police, who they accuse of using excessive force to put down protests.
The shooting is likely to put more pressure on the government to consider protesters’ demands for a new independent investigation into police conduct. It is also likely to deepen the divide between Hong Kong residents and the government.
The scuffles on Monday morning followed another weekend of clashes between police and protesters across town. In many districts across the city, residents were seen coming outside to shout abuse at police as they fired tear gas and made arrests.
Peaceful vigils were also held over the weekend fora student who died Friday morningfrom head injuries sustained in a fall from a parking garage in the early hours of last Monday while police were using tear gas in a nearby dispersal operation.
Monday’s shooting was the third live-fire incident that injured protesters since the demonstrations began. On Oct. 1,an 18 – year-old student was shot in the chest by a riot police officerin the western New Territories while he was part of a group attacking the officer. Three days later, a 14 – year-old boy was shot in the left thigh by a plainclothes officer who was surrounded by protesters.
At the scene of Monday’s shooting, a uniformed policeman drew his pistol with one hand and grabbed a protester with the other, the online video showed. Another black-clad protester approached the policeman and the officer fired at him. The shot protester fell to the ground immediately, clutching the right side of his stomach. The officer then fired two more rounds in the direction of other protesters. Hospital Authority officials didn’t comment on whether there was a second injured person.
Outside the intensive care unit of Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, supporters of the injured 21 – year-old protester, who was identified by his friends as Patrick Chow, gathered. A woman in her early 30 s said she came to the hospital with her 9-year-old daughter to show support for Mr. Chow.
The gunshot was unnecessary, said the woman, who only gave her first name, Ceres.
Mr. Chow had been out protesting before, according to his girlfriend who only gave her last name, Yuen. Ms. Ms. Yuen said she spoke to Mr. Chow before he headed out Monday morning.
After dawn Monday, protesters set up barricades at several key transportation interchanges around the city, including two road tunnels, according to police. More than a dozen locations were targeted for barricading by protesters, according to footage circulating online and posters in Telegram chat rooms where many protesters receive information about rallies.
In some areas, police responded by firing tear gas. Some commuters got caught in the middle in the district of Tseung Kwan O, where the student died last week after falling from the parking garage. The affected commuters were treated by people appearing to be first aid workers who were carrying water and saline solution.
The Hong Kong Police Force said it opened fire early Monday morning in the Eastern District of Hong Kong island without providing details. Earlier, police issued a statement calling on protesters to stop obstructing traffic.
Demands from protesters widened over the summer to include calls for an independent inquiry into alleged police misconduct against demonstrators and greater democratic rights, including full universal suffrage in choosing Hong Kong’s leader.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam has in recent weeks softened her stance on an independent inquiry into how the police have handled the protests, saying she would consider it after assessing the results of an existing probe by Hong Kong’s Independent Police Complaints Council. Pro-democracy groups have said the body isn’t independent and doesn’t have the leverage — it can’t summon witnesses, for example — to be effective.
On Saturday, a panel of independent experts called in to assist the council said the body lacks power and resources to meet the demands of investigating the force’s conduct during the protests, according to a statement posted on the Twitter account of panel member Clifford Stott, a dean for research at Keele University in England.
The independent panel of experts, which is tasked to conduct a fact-finding study into the unrest after growing public concern about police behavior and tactics, urged “a deeper more comprehensive inquiry” by an independent body with greater powers.
– Rachel Yeo and Joyu Wang contributed to this article.
Copyright © 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990 CBE 856818 D5eddac 44 c7b1cdeb8