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Hong Kong protests turn violent as knifeman bites part of campaigner’s ear off

Riot police stormed Hong Kong shopping centres to thwart more protests.

Riot police at a Hong Kong shopping centre (AP/Dita Alangkara)
Riot police at a Hong Kong shopping centre (AP/Dita Alangkara)

By Eileen Ng, Associated Press

A knife-wielding man has slashed several people and bit off part of the ear of a local pro-democracy politician in Hong Kong.

Local media reports say at least five people were injured, including two in critical condition, after the violent incident which came as riot police stormed several shopping centres to thwart pro-democracy protests.

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District councillor Andrew Chiu receives medical treatment in Hong Kong (Elson Li/HK01 via AP)

There were calls online urging protesters to gather in seven locations to sustain a push for political reform following a chaotic day of clashes with police on Saturday, as the anti-government movement shows no signs of letting up after nearly five months.

Most of the rallies did not pan out on Sunday as scores of riot police took positions, searching and arresting people, dispersing crowds and blocking access to a park next to the office of the city’s embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Some small pockets of hardcore demonstrators were undeterred.

As protesters chanted slogans at the New Town Plaza shopping centre in Sha Tin, police said they moved in after some “masked rioters” with fire extinguishers vandalised turnstiles and smashed windows at the subway station linked to the centre.

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A riot police officer fires pepper spray towards people at a shopping centre (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

At two shopping centres in the New Territories in the north, protesters vandalised shops, threw paint and attacked a branch of Japanese fast food chain Yoshinoya, which has been frequently targeted after the chain’s owner voiced support for the Hong Kong police.

Police rushed into one of the shopping centres after objects were thrown at them. At another, protesters used umbrellas and cable ties to lock the entrance to prevent police from entering.

Later in the day, police stormed the Cityplaza shopping complex on Hong Kong Island after some protesters sprayed graffiti at a restaurant. A human chain by dozens of people was broken up and angry shoppers heckled the police.

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A man walks past posters with Chinese words reading ‘Peaceful protesters and frontliners stand together’ at a shopping centre in Hong Kong (Dita Alangkara/AP)

On Sunday night outside Cityplaza, a man slashed several people with a knife and bit off part of the ear of district councillor Andrew Chiu who was trying to stop him from leaving. Local media said the man told his victims that Hong Kong belongs to China, and that the councillor was a pro-democracy politician.

Television footage showed the man biting the councillor’s ear and being badly beaten up by a crowd after the attack, before police arrived. At least five people were injured, two of them critically and two seriously, news reports said.

The protests began in early June over a now-shelved plan to allow extraditions to mainland China but have since swelled into a movement seeking other demands, including direct elections for Hong Kong’s leaders and an independent inquiry into police conduct.

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Demonstrators build a barricade in the street (Vincent Yu/AP)

Mrs Lam has refused to budge on the demands, and instead has focused on measures that she said contributed to protesters’ anger, such as creating jobs and easing housing woes in one of the world’s most expensive cities. She invoked emergency powers last month to ban face masks at rallies, provoking further anger.

Her office said that Mrs Lam, currently in Shanghai, will head to Beijing on Tuesday. She is due to hold talks on Wednesday with Chinese vice premier Han Zheng and join a meeting on the development of the Greater Bay Area that aims to link Hong Kong, Macao and nine other cities in southern China.

The ambitious project will help make it easier for Hong Kong residents to work and reside in mainland Chinese cities, and bolster the flow of people and goods, Mrs Lam’s office said in a statement.

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Police fired tear gas during clashes with protesters on Saturday (Dita Alangkara/AP)

But the plan has also sparked concerns over China’s growing influence over the territory. Many protesters fear Beijing is slowly infringing on the freedoms guaranteed to Hong Kong when the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.

PA

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