A Hong Kong police officer has shot an apparently unarmed protester at close range in the stomach with a live bullet, potentially inflaming an already volatile situation days after a group of pro-democracy lawmakers was arrested in the city.
Footage showed a police officer drawing his weapon in the eastern district of Sai Wan Ho as he tried to detain a masked man at a road junction that had been blocked by protesters.
Another masked man then approached the officer and was apparently shot in the chest area, quickly falling to the ground, clutching his left side. His condition was not clear.
Seconds later, two more live rounds were fired by the officer during a scuffle and another masked man went to the ground, although the footage was less clear as to whether he was struck.
Police could later be seen detaining the two men on the ground. The first man had a pool of blood next to him and his body was limp as officers moved him around and apparently tried to tie his hands.
A hospital press officer said that a 21-year-old male suffered a gunshot wound. Earlier, a police spokesperson said two people were hurt and taken conscious to the hospital after police opened fire with live rounds.
The injured individuals were conscious when they were removed from the scene, said the press officer, who did not say how many shots were fired. The incident occurred at 7:24 a.m. local time outside the Sai Wan Ho Mass Transit Railway station.
Protesters blocked roads and vandalized shopping malls across Hong Kong’s New Territories and Kowloon peninsula on Sunday during another weekend of anti-government demonstrations.
The latest mass demonstrations come after three pro-democracy lawmakers were arrested on Saturday and reports indicated that others were warned they soon could be taken into custody.
Hong Kong is scheduled to hold local elections this month.
The incident is likely to strengthen calls for Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to appoint an independent commission of inquiry to examine police actions against protesters since June.
Thousands of people gathered on Saturday night at a vigil for “martyrs”, after a student died in hospital this week following a high fall.
Though the vigil ended peacefully, many attendees called for revenge after the student’s death from injuries sustained during a protest.
Hong Kong police issued a statement warning protesters had built barricades in multiple locations across Hong Kong but failed to mention the live round shootings. Multiple universities soon cancelled classes and said staff should not travel to work and students should try to stay safe.
Source: SMH, CNBC, AlJZEERA