Illegal violence is pushing Hong Kong to the brink of great danger, the city government said on Monday, after a weekend of clashes that included the first gun-shot and the arrest of 86 people, the youngest just 12.
Police fired water cannon and volleys of tear gas in running battles with protesters who threw bricks and petrol bombs on Sunday, the second day of weekend clashes in the Chinese-ruled city.
Six officers drew their pistols and one officer fired a warning shot into the air, police said in a statement, adding that 215 rounds of tear gas and 74 rubber bullets were fired over the two days.
“The escalating illegal and violent acts of radical protesters are not only outrageous, they also push Hong Kong to the verge of a very dangerous situation,” the government said in a statement.
The protests began in mid-June over a now-suspended extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong people to be sent to mainland China for trial.
But the demonstrations have evolved over 12 straight weeks into a broad demand for greater democracy in the financial hub that was promised a high degree of autonomy under a “one country, two systems” formula when it was handed to China by colonial ruler Britain in 1997.
More demonstrations are planned in the days and weeks ahead, including a rally at Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways (0293.HK) headquarters on Wednesday to protest against perceived “white terror”, a term used to describe anonymous acts that create a climate of fear.
Cathay has emerged as the biggest corporate casualty of the protests after China demanded it suspend staff involved in, or who supported, the anti-government demonstrations that have plunged the city into its biggest crisis since 1997.
On Saturday, activists threw petrol bombs and bricks in the gritty industrial district of Kwun Tong, on the east of the Kowloon peninsula. Some protesters cut down “smart” lamp posts equipped with surveillance cameras.