Police Fire Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets in Hong Kong Clash

HONG KONG (Reuters) -
Demonstrators are seen amidst smoke from tear gas during a protest against the Yuen Long attacks in Yuen Long, New Territories, Hong Kong, July 27. (Reuters/Edgar Su)

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators hurling rocks in a rural Hong Kong town on Saturday as several thousand activists gathered to protest an attack by suspected triad gang members at a train station last weekend.

Activists held the march in Yuen Long, scene of the attack by club-wielding men, despite a police ban on safety grounds.

Building barricades out of street furniture and umbrellas, protesters threw rocks and bottles. Many armed themselves with hiking sticks and improvised shields from wood, surfboards, cardboard and other materials.

Police, widely criticized for failing to better protect the public from last weekend’s attack, responded on Sunday with tear gas, rubber bullets and sponge grenades, a crowd control weapon.

Several hundred protesters remained as dark fell, fighting with police in the local train station, where blood could be seen spattered on the floor. Earlier, Reuters witnesses saw a hard core group of activists with small metal bats, metal and wooden poles and slingshots moving against the human tide.

Last Sunday, about 100 white-shirted men stormed the Yuen Long mass-transit station hours after protesters marched through central Hong Kong and defaced China’s Liaison Office – the main symbol of Beijing’s authority over the former British colony.

The men attacked black-clad protesters returning from Hong Kong island, passers-by, journalists and lawmakers with pipes and clubs, leaving 45 people injured. Some of the men later fled to Nam Pin Wai, a traditional walled village.