A teen activist has been shot as Hong Kong police fired live rounds to disperse protesters amid escalating violence on China’s national day of celebration.
Video that spread quickly on social media appeared to show an officer opening fire as the protester came at him with a metal rod, striking the policeman’s shooting arm.
The 18-year-old was shot by a pistol at close range, leaving him bleeding and howling on the ground, the first time a protester is known to have been hit by gunfire.
Police said the young man was shot in the shoulder while media were reporting he had been hit in the chest.
The escalating violence occurred as Beijing marked 70 years of Communist rule with a dramatic parade of its military might.
Video taken by the City University Student Union, showed a dozen black-clad protesters hurling objects at a group of riot police and closing in on the lone officer.
The policeman pointed his pistol and opened fire before the teen protester toppled backward onto the street, bleeding from below his left shoulder.
As another protester rushed in to try to drag away the wounded youth and was tackled by an officer, a gasoline bomb landed in the middle of the group of officers in an explosion of flames.
The young man was filmed on the ground, bleeding from his upper body as he is surrounded by military men in gas masks.
“Send me to hospital. My chest is hurting,” the 18-year-old can be heard saying, according to local media translation.
A journalist then tries to calm him, saying “You’re getting too worked up. Your chest is bleeding.”
A Hong Kong protester was shot in his chest by a live round. Later on he was unconscious for a while and police did CPR to him. He became conscious and first-aid came and send him to hospital.
— 🇭🇰Pray for HK🇺🇸 (@HK_Light_KAG) October 1, 2019
Hong Kong police spokesperson Yolanda Yu said the officer had feared for his life before pulling the trigger at the “rioters”.
“The police officers’ lives were under serious threat,” Ms Yu said in a police video.
“To save his own life and his colleagues’ lives, he fired a live shot at the assailant.”
The wounded teenager was conscious when he was taken to a hospital for treatment, she added, without giving details about his condition.
The Pray for Hong Kong Twitter feed reported that police performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on him before he regained consciousness and was taken to hospital.
Hong Kong’s hospital authority said the shot teen was one of two people in critical condition, with a total of 51 people injured as fierce clashes between protesters and police wracked China’s freest and most international city.
There were other instances Tuesday when officers also drew their weapons, including two with bloodied faces who pointed pistols, as protesters and riot police fought fierce battles at multiple locations in the city on edge, with many determined to spoil the October 1 anniversary of Communist rule.
Riot police fired tear gas in at least six locations and used water cannons in the business district as protesters turned streets into battlefields.
A security clampdown to thwart violence that would embarrass Chinese President Xi Jinping failed to deter the protests, including a massive march in the city centre.
The entire Tsuen Wan subway line was shut as more than 20 MTR (mass transit railway) subway stations were closed.
Video also shows structures on fire and riot police chasing groups of protesters.
Hong Kong Free Press is reporting that journalists were also arrested and “manhandled” by police trying to shut down their work.
— hfok (@hfok) October 1, 2019
Confronting footage also appears to show authorities dragging a protester who lays on his stomach with his hands cuffed behind his back.
Riot police fired multiple rounds of tear gas in at least four locations across the semi-autonomous Chinese territory as protesters engaged in cat-and-mouse clashes that turned streets into battlefields.
Dozens of police officers formed a security cordon, backed by a water cannon truck, to prevent protesters from advancing to Beijing’s liaison office.
— Tiffany L. (@Thisisyuet) October 1, 2019
Organisers said at least 100,000 people marched along a broad city thoroughfare in defiance of a police ban, chanting anti-China slogans and some carrying Chinese flags defaced with a black cross. Police didn’t provide an estimate of the turnout.
The protests began in early June over a now-shelved extradition bill that activists say was an example of how Hong Kong’s freedoms and citizen rights are being eroded.
The movement has since snowballed into an anti-Chinese campaign with demands for direct elections for the city’s leaders and police accountability.
Amid a tight security clampdown, thousands of others engaged in stand-offs with police in multiple rallies on Tuesday in the city.
Riot police repeatedly fired tear gas in the Wong Tai Sin, Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun areas as protesters hurled gasoline bombs, bricks and other objects in their direction.
The tear gas mostly didn’t deter protesters, who used umbrellas as shields and threw tear gas canisters back at police. Police said protesters used corrosive fluid in Tuen Mun, injuring officers and some reporters.
In Wong Tai Sin, a gasoline bomb that protesters hurled at police exploded near motorcycles parked along a pavement, creating a large blaze that was put out by firefighters.
Some protesters placed an emergency water hose down a subway station to try to flood it.
“Today we are out to tell the Communist Party that Hong Kong people have nothing to celebrate,” said activist Lee Cheuk-yan as he led the downtown march.
“We are mourning that in 70 years of Communist Party rule, the democratic rights of people in Hong Kong and China are being denied. We will continue to fight.”
Many shopping malls across Hong Kong were also shut amid fears of chaos.