Hong Kong anti-government demonstrators clashed with police into the early hours of Thursday, venting their anger over a policeman’s shooting and wounding of a teenager earlier in the week, as months of protests show no sign of letting up.
Activists went on the rampage in districts across the Chinese-ruled city late into the night, hurling petrol bombs, setting fires, blocking roads and vandalising some shops and metro stations as police fired tear gas to disperse them.
“Wherever there are protests nearby I’ll come … I’m out tonight for a simple reason. You don’t shoot a teenager at point-blank range,” said Alex Chan, an interior designer at a protest in the bustling shopping district of Causeway Bay.
“These protests will continue and we won’t give up.”
Thousands more took to the streets on Wednesday in peaceful rallies to condemn the shooting of the 18-year-old secondary school student, who remains in hospital after being shot in the chest during disturbances on Tuesday.
Police say the officer fired in self-defence because he feared his life was in danger.
The student, who was brandishing a pipe, was shot at point-blank range during protests on Tuesday that turned violent in multiple locations across the city as demonstrators hurled petrol bombs at police who responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.
The railway operator MTR closed stations in a number of districts just before midnight on Wednesday as violence escalated once again.
Police said on Thursday the protesters’ acts “seriously undermined public order and posed a threat to the personal safety of police officers and members of the public.”
The former British colony has been rocked by months of protests over a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial, but have developed into calls for democracy, among other demands.
The opposition to the Beijing-backed government has plunged the city into its biggest political crisis in decades and poses the most serious popular challenge to President Xi Jinping since he came to power.
Protesters are also angry about what they see as creeping interference by Beijing in their city’s affairs despite a promise of autonomy in the “one country, two systems” formula under which Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997.
China dismisses accusations it is meddling and has accused foreign governments, including the United States and Britain, of stirring up anti-China sentiment.