Robot blows up suspected bomb

Top News | Cindy Wan, Jane Cheung and Angel Kwan 21 Oct 2019

Police used a bomb disposal robot for the first time to detonate a suspected bomb in Prince Edward, and sprayed dyed water cannons as thousands of protesters rallied and set off petrol bombs across Kowloon.

The rally, organized by the Civil Human Rights Front from Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui to West Kowloon Express Rail station, went ahead on the 20th weekend of unrest despite a police ban.

Four members of the pro-democracy camp - the front's vice convener Figo Chan Ho-wun, former lawmakers "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, Cyd Ho Sau-lan and Albert Ho Chun-yan - called upon the public to march according to the banned route.

At about 9pm, mobs set a fire outside a Xiaomi shop on the ground floor of Chong Hing Square in Mong Kok. The blaze burnt through its metal gate into the shop, with smoke billowing several stories high.

Earlier, four men and two women aged between 21 and 73 were sent to hospital in stable condition.

Chan estimated that 350,000 people took part in the rally. Police had not issued their estimate by press time.

Huge crowds, including many families with children, set off at 1.30pm to march along Nathan Road despite police warning it was illegal.

Not long after, mobs began attacking police stations and MTR stations with firebombs and vandalized shops across various districts in Kowloon as far as Sham Shui Po. Just a few went to West Kowloon Express Rail station, which was spared violence.

At 6pm, a suspected bomb with wire connections covered by a paper box and surrounded by bricks was placed in the middle of Lai Chi Kok Road outside Lui Seng Chun in Prince Edward.

Police cordoned off the area before officers from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau arrived. A six-wheel bomb disposal robot stretched its extendable arm and set the suspected bomb off with a loud bang at 6.22pm.

Earlier in Tsim Sha Tsui, masked mobs beat up a Putonghua-speaking man who tried to stop them from spraying the police station. After he ran into the station, several protesters urinated outside its gate.

They also threw bricks with a giant slingshot and hurled at least 10 petrol bombs at the barricades.

Police fired at least 30 tear gas rounds, with some being thrown back or snuffed out by the mobs. A water cannon vehicle arrived at 4.10pm, shooting blue-dyed water.

Petrol bombs were also thrown at Sham Shui Po police station.

The iconic Kowloon Masjid and Islamic Centre saw its wall and entrance staircase stained blue. Various shops were also sprayed.

Protesters ran northward along Nathan Road, setting up road blocks before setting them on fire in Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok.

Crowds gathered outside Mong Kok police station at 5.30pm and began throwing petrol bombs and bricks at it.

Police fired rubber bullets, beanbag rounds and sponge grenades but the crowd only dispersed when the water cannon vehicle arrived.

Mainland-connected banks - including Bank of China (Hong Kong), CMB Wing Lung Bank, Bank of East Asia and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China - were broken into by mobs who sprayed slogans on the walls and shattered glass panels.

The Mong Kok office of pro-establishment district councilor Edmond Chung Kong-mo was vandalized, as well as shops in Yau Ma Tei including Yoshinoya and Best Mart 360.

Two men, aged 31 and 34, were arrested for possession of offensive weapons after they were suspected of transporting petrol bombs and paint bombs to protest scenes.

Earlier, officers found 42 petrol bombs and some materials for making paint bombs, including 16 cans of paint, five bottles of turpentine, plastic gloves and face masks in the trunks of a taxi and a seven-seater car being driven by the men at Lo Fai Road of Tai Po.

Police condemned arson at multiple locations in Kowloon, saying: "Indoor fires can quickly get out of control and burn residents living above the shops."

More reports:

Ethnic minorities pour cold water on retaliation fears

17 stations shuttered as illegal rally turns violent

Positive steps urged on Taiwan surrender

Lam stance softens on police inquiry

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