14 July 2024

Spontaneous flash-mob rallies broke out in Hong Kong on Wednesday as anger mounted over police shooting a teenage protester who attacked officers in a dramatic escalation of the violent unrest that has engulfed the territory for months.

 

A few thousand demonstrators, including office workers in shirts and suits, mustered in a park and then began marching through the city’s commercial district in an unsanctioned rally, chanting anti-police and anti-government slogans.

Hours earlier, hundreds of students staged a sit-in at the school of 18-year-old Tsang Chi-kin, who was shot in the chest by a policeman as he and a group of masked protesters attacked officers with umbrellas and poles.

 

The international finance hub has been left reeling from the shooting, the first time a demonstrator has been struck with a live round in nearly four months of increasingly violent pro-democracy protests.

Hong Kong was battered by the most sustained political clashes of the year on Tuesday as China celebrated 70 years of Communist Party rule with a massive military parade in Beijing.

 

The spiralling violence underscored seething public anger against Beijing’s rule and shifted the spotlight from China’s carefully choreographed birthday party, which was designed to showcase its status as a global superpower.

 

Running battles raged for hours across multiple locations as hardcore protesters hurled rocks and petrol bombs. Police responded for the most part with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.

Police said the officer fired at Tsang because he feared for his life on a day that saw his colleagues fire five warning shots from their pistols throughout the city.

“In this very short span of time, he made a decision and shot the assailant,” police chief Stephen Lo said.

 

But protest groups said the officer charged into the melee with his firearm drawn and condemned the increasing use of live rounds.

“The people of Hong Kong are sick and tired of having mere words of condemnation as their only shields against lethal bullets and rifles,” a masked protester said at a press conference near Tsang’s school.