BFF-40 Police shoot protester, man set on fire in day of Hong Kong fury

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Police shoot protester, man set on fire in day of Hong Kong fury

HONG KONG, Nov 11, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – A police officer shot a masked
protester in an incident shown live on Facebook and a man was set on fire
Monday during one of the most violent days of clashes in Hong Kong since pro-
democracy unrest erupted more than five months ago.

Protesters, who had already begun a city-wide day of action aimed at
paralysing the international financial hub, reacted to the morning shooting
by rampaging through train stations, barricading streets and vandalising
shops throughout the day.

A masked assailant also doused a man with a flammable liquid and set him
ablaze during an argument, with the horrifying scene captured on mobile
phones and also posted online.

Police said a protester carried out that attack and accused black-clad
“rioters” of an array of other violent acts, including throwing a petrol bomb
inside a train carriage.

“Continuing this rampage is a lose-lose situation for Hong Kong,” police
spokesman John Tse said at a press conference in which he showed the video of
the man being set alight, as well as a fire inside a train.

At the end of the business day Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam held a
press conference to denounce the violence and vow it would not lead to any
government concessions.

“I am making this statement clear and loud here, that will not happen,”
Lam said.

– Livestreamed shooting –

The footage of the shooting — broadcast live to Facebook by a bystander –
– showed a police officer drawing a pistol as he tried to detain a masked
person at a junction that had been blocked by protesters.

Another unarmed masked protester then approached the officer and was shot,
quickly falling to the ground.

Authorities said he was in critical condition in hospital.

Police chiefs defended the officer drawing his weapon and firing as a
legitimate use of force given his fears for his safety.

But protesters, who for months have accused police of using excessive
force and demanded an independent inquiry into their actions, were incensed.

“I don’t understand why police have to use that kind of brutality to hurt
innocent people… it’s just out of control,” a 22-year-old IT worker, who
gave her surname as Chan, told AFP as she joined angry crowds to protest in
the area of the shooting.

Monday’s shooting was the third time protesters had been hit by live
rounds fired by police. None of the shootings have resulted in deaths.

Lam said the man set on fire was in a critical condition. She described
that attack as “totally inhumane”.

Protesters ignored her pleas for calm with further rallies in multiple
locations across the city on Monday night.

Online forums used by the largely anonymous and leaderless movement also
carried messages vowing another day of chaos on Tuesday.

– Increasing violence –

Hong Kong has endured 24 straight weeks of increasingly violent rallies
aimed at securing greater democratic freedoms from China, which has ruled the
city under a “one country, two systems” framework since its handover from the
British in 1997.

The protesters are desperate to stop what they see as Beijing’s tightening
control over Hong Kong, and reneging on its handover commitment to allow
greater liberties for the city than those on the mainland.

But Beijing has refused to give in, and instead warned it is prepared to
impose even greater security measures.

Tensions in Hong Kong were already high following the death on Friday of a
22-year-old student who succumbed to injuries sustained from a fall in the
vicinity of a police clearance operation a week earlier.

After a weekend of clashes and huge vigils, Monday’s chaos began with
small groups of masked protesters disrupting subway stations and roads during
the rush hour commute.

But as footage of the shooting went viral, the protests snowballed.

During the lunchtime break in Central, a downtown district that hosts
blue-chip international conglomerates and luxury retailers, police fired tear
gas to disperse thousands of protesters, many dressed in office attire and
chanting “murderers”.

Tear gas and rubber bullets were fired in multiple districts throughout
the day, including at university campuses.

One video circulated by protesters on messaging channels showed a police
officer trying repeatedly to drive his motorbike into protesters who had
gathered on a road.

Police said the officer has since been suspended, the first time the force
has made an announcement removing someone from active duty in relation to the
protests since they began.

BSS/AFP/BZC/1940HRS