Cops dub CUHK a 'weapons factory'

Local | Cindy Wan 14 Nov 2019

Police accused the Chinese University of Hong Kong of being a "weapons factory" as petrol bombs were thrown at officers guarding Bridge No 2 over Tolo Highway in one of the fiercest clashes seen in the five months of unrest.

Police officers were sent to the Sha Tin campus after objects were hurled from the bridge at the Tolo Highway underneath.

John Tse Chun-chung, chief superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch, said officers came under fierce attack by protesters throwing petrol bombs, shooting arrows and firing a signal flare from the campus during its operation on Tuesday.

"We have a strong suspicion that the school was used as a weapons factory, as several hundreds of petrol bombs were thrown from campus in one single day," he said.

CUHK said in a statement on its web site, that despite multiple attempts, negotiations "ultimately failed due to sustained confrontation."

"Petrol bombs and injurious objects were continuously thrown by the crowd present during the confrontation, while the police fired volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets. The University is saddened to learn that a number of colleagues and students were injured in these incidents."

Four police officers sustained injuries during the operation, Tse said.

He said the police had agreed with the university's vice-chancellor Rocky Tuan Sung-chi to a cease-fire. However, when the vice-chancellor walked to the police at 9.29pm, protesters threw petrol bombs from a slope, forcing the police to fire tear gas as Tuan approached, senior superintendent of the Operations Branch Wong Wai-shun said.

"Should the school and the vice-chancellor provide an explanation to residents living in the New Territories for failing to keep the pact?" Tse asked.

Wong said the only purpose for the CUHK operations was to ensure the smooth travel of drivers on Tolo Highway.

Officers left the bridge on Monday night, but were forced to return on Tuesday midnight as Food and Environmental Hygiene Department officers were attacked by protesters after trying to remove the roadblocks below, Wong said.

The police eventually used the water cannon vehicle to cover officers when they were retreating, hoping to make space for the school to communicate with the students, the senior superintendent added.

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