Rioters use terror-like device

2019-10-15 08:06:26Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Lawmaker suggests police hire temporary officers

The escalation of violence in attacks on Hong Kong police, including a knife to the neck and a home-made bomb, has prompted experts to argue that such extreme tactics used by rioters on the weekend must be classified and treated as terrorism by authorities.

The experts also encouraged police to upgrade and strengthen law enforcement to handle extreme rioters "with no mercy."

Kong Wing-cheung, police public relations branch senior superintendent, said at a press conference at the headquarters of the Hong Kong Police Force on Monday that 201 people aged 14-62 were arrested from Friday to Sunday for allegedly attending an illegal assembly, possession of offensive weapons, arson and wearing masks at an illegal assembly.

During the illegal assemblies, 12 police officers were injured over the weekend, including one whose neck was stabbed by a knife and two who had their heads injured, police said.

Kong said the officer attacked by a knife in Kwun Tong district on Sunday has a 3-4 centimeter wound on the right side of his neck and the vein and nerve in his neck were cut completely through until medical staff reconnected them.

Senior Superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah of the Police Organised Crime and Triad Bureau told reporters at the press conference that the police need to discuss charges for the attacker with the Department of Justice, but the maximum punishment would be life imprisonment.

IED attack

A radio-controlled improvised explosive device (IED) linked to a mobile phone exploded Sunday night in Kowloon, the first such case in Hong Kong, police said on Monday.

The explosive had only one purpose: to kill police officers, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau Officer Li Chin-chiu said at a press conference on Monday.

Li Chin-chiu showed a picture of the explosion taken 8 pm by a vehicle-mounted camera about 10-15 meters from a group of police officers cleaning up barricades on Nathan Road. Nobody was injured in the explosion.

Officers found apparent bomb-making materials in the nearby shrubbery. It was a home-made bomb that could be controlled by a mobile phone, Li Chin-chiu said, and the blast could have injured not only police but also civilians.

Li Wei, a counter-terrorism expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, told the Global Times that this case could be treated as a terrorist attack according to international norms.

"In the months-long turmoil in Hong Kong, some radical people among the protesters have become extremely violent," Li Wei said.

"In this case, the attackers' explosive device could hurt police as well as civilians, and clearly they want to create and spread terror in the city."

Li Wei said that ordinary Hong Kong residents have no motivation to make a phone-controlled bomb and so the attackers had a clear anti-government goal to spread terror.

"Normal police officers are not able to deal with this kind of attack effectively and they could become targets as well," Li Wei said.

No mercy 

"The Hong Kong police should let counter-terrorism forces get involved and show no mercy to these extremists. Otherwise, it would be irresponsible to the security of police officers and civilians."

Chris Tang Ping-keung, deputy commissioner of police (operations), stressed at the press conference that it was the first time for such an attack.

The blast was "two meters away from the police vehicle" and the police would try their best to investigate and bring the attackers to justice.

Lawrence Ma, a barrister and chairman of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, told the Global Times Monday that after the mask ban took effect, its effect was not as good as expected since a one-year maximum sentence did not sufficiently deter rioters.

Ma noted that the international community, especially developed Western countries, has been swift in dealing with similar illegal protests and the way protesters protest. But when such protests happen in Hong Kong, "the Western media would twist what's really happening and use the so-called human rights and freedom issues to smear China."

Ma said the police could charge rioters who attack the police with four counts: attempted murder, causing grievous bodily harm to others, wounding and causing bodily harm to others, and attacking police.

More police force

The worsening situation has triggered concerns that police lack the manpower to deal with increasingly extreme and violent rioters.

A pro-establishment Hong Kong lawmaker suggested that the police consider employing "temporary police officers" as reinforcements. Junius Ho Kwan-yiu on Monday told the Global Times that according to the Police Force Ordinance of the Hong Kong [Chapter 232, article 24], the Commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Force can recruit "temporary police officers" to safeguard public order, especially during emergencies, and there was no limit on the number.

"These temporary police have the same treatment as formal police officers and they don't have to be Hong Kong permanent residents," Ho said.

"They can be retired military, armed police and police officers from the mainland, or retired police officers from other parts of the world."

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