Bullet fired, water cannon unleashed

Top News | Cindy Wan and Amy Nip 26 Aug 2019

Two water cannon vehicles made their powerful debut in Tsuen Wan last night, scaring away protesters, as the 12th weekend of protests again descended into violence.

The two vehicles - which can shoot at targets up to 50 meters away - were deployed for the first time to control protesters.

As tension mounted at 8pm, a police officer fired a warning shot for the first time while three others pointed their service revolvers at a group of protesters who chased and attacked them at New Haven Tower on Sha Tsui Road.

Several dozen protesters with metal rods and bamboo poles had attacked a group of six officers near the intersection of Chuen Lung Street and Sha Tsui Road. As they were vastly outnumbered, four officers pulled out their guns and pointed at the attackers as they retreated. One of them fired a shot in the air.

Footage from video cameras showed two unmasked men kneel and plead with the officers not to shoot. But one of the officers was seen kicking a man out of the way, as other officers charged forward with their guns pointing forward. The group then dispersed.

Earlier, the water trucks reached Yeung Uk Road in front of Nina Tower at 6.22pm yesterday, where police and protesters were locked in a violent standoff for more than two hours.

Protesters had been throwing bricks, Molotov cocktails and objects fired from a giant slingshot at the police less than 100 meters away.

Officers hit back with tear gas and non-lethal rounds of beanbags or rubber bullets. Some protesters grabbed the tear gas rounds and threw them back - without hitting the police.

As the two water cannon trucks approached, one vehicle shot water at water barriers. Once the vehicles emerged from behind the police front line, hundreds of protesters fled, even though the cannons were not fired.

Members of the elite Special Tactical Squad, known as the Raptors, charged forward, arresting several protesters.

The vehicles left in the direction of Tsuen Wan West.

By 7pm, most protesters had left the area except for 100 who remained at Tsuen Wan Market and Chung On streets.

Dozens turned to Yi Pei Square and vandalized at least six shops, including two mahjong parlors. They tore open the metal gate of a chicken pot restaurant, shattered its glass. They then broke the glass door of a mahjong parlor.

Yi Pei Square was where knife-wielding thugs stabbed and injured several people on August 5 during citywide strikes and early August 12 following the Sham Shui Po protest. Protesters accused the shops of sheltering the gangsters.

Later protesters went on to Sham Shui Po and Tsim Sha Tsui.

Earlier in the afternoon, thousands of protesters marched from Kwai Chung to Tsuen Wan in heavy rain, urging police to stop brutal enforcement.

They walked from Kwai Chung Sports Ground along Hing Shing Road and Texaco Road to Tsuen Wan Park, chanting: "Black cops, eye for an eye" and "Hong Kong police, know the laws and break the laws."

The police initially banned the march, but it eventually issued the letter of no objection after reaching an agreement on the route with the rally organizer, Lam Kai-hong.

Rally organizer Lam lambasted Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuek-ngor for appealing to citizens to start talks while turning a blind eye to police brutality.

He reiterated the five major demands voiced throughout the fugitive saga, saying the government must meet all demands.

A protester named Choi, 26, said Lam's move to persuade citizens to have talks with the government was hypocritical.

"She told us to stop but her government continues to allow the police to catch and torture the protesters. If she really wants to talk, come over to the protest area," he said.

Choi said Lam had also talked to student and protest leaders during the Umbrella Movement in 2014, but "all those she talked to ended up in jail." Another protester, Leung, in her 40s, said: "We only wanted the fugitive bill be withdrawn in the beginning. But as the movement develops, more dark sides of the government have been exposed."

An hour into the march, some reached the destination at Tsuen Wan Park.

Some protesters started a standoff with police on Yeung Uk Road, with their number gradually increasing to 1,000 at its peak.

Others set up roadblocks on Texaco Road and Luen Yan Street, some using bamboo sticks from a nearby construction site. Others poured soap water onto the street.

Police warned of clearance action before 5pm, and started firing tear gas half an hour later.

More reports:

Lampposts laid lowover spying fears

Commuters seethe after three stations shut down

Cops' families march in call for inquiry

Two more 'white shirts' on station rioting charge

Cathay Pacific clips off another pilot's wings over protest

Reality bites as restaurants shutter, workers owed pay

Hotels slash rates amid empty rooms

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