Petrol bombs and bricks rained again in Hong Kong Sunday afternoon as black-clad, masked rioters went on rampage to renew violence that has plagued Hong Kong for months.
The Hospital Authority said 16 males and eight females, aged between 11 to 73, were injured in the violent incidents as of 11:00 p.m. local time, with six in serious condition.
Mobsters firebombed the Tsim Sha Tsui police station, trashed multiple metro stations, committed arson and vandalized public and private facilities in Hong Kong's Kowloon, soon after a large number of masked people, mostly dressed in black, ignored police objection and staged an unauthorized demonstration at 1:30 p.m. local time.
At Tai Po, the police intercepted two suspicious vehicles carrying a large number of offensive weapons, including 42 petrol bombs and 16 tanks of paint near Sunday noon. Two suspects, aged 31 and 34 respectively, were arrested, according to the police.
As violence escalated at around 3:00 p.m., rioters attacked police officers with petrol bombs and bricks, smashed ATM machines and other facilities of bank outlets, and trashed stores operated by people who disagreed with them.
They also built road barricades and set fires to the exits of multiple stations of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR).
The black-clad people spray-painted insulting words, vandalized and hurled petrol bombs into Mong Kok, Yau Ma Tei and Austin MTR stations. Some rioters prized open the metal gate of a restaurant on the Waterloo Road and trashed the restaurant. They also broke into banks on the Carnarvon Road and Nathan Road and set fires there.
Many masked thugs used umbrellas to cover their vandalism and violent acts.
A suspected explosive device was found on the Lai Chi Kok Road in the afternoon, covered by a paper box and with wires sticking out. It was disposed of by a robot of police later, with an explosion heard at the scene. Police said the case was still under investigation.
Making or having in possession of explosives could lead to imprisonment for 20 years, and causing an explosion with explosive substance could lead to imprisonment for life, police said in a statement.
In response to the violence, the Hong Kong police fired tear gas, used the specialized crowd management vehicle and other minimum force necessary to disperse rioters along the Nathan Road, while fire fighters arrived to extinguish the fires.
Police urged the rioters to stop their illegal acts immediately, saying other participants were committing the offence of "participating in an unauthorized assembly."
Fires set by rioters in shops and public facilities can quickly get out of control and burn residents living above, posing a major threat to personal safety of the public, according to the police statement.
Traffic on several roads in Tsim Sha Tsui were seriously disrupted, and at least two shopping malls and most stores at the Chungking Mansions near the once-popular tourist areas were forced to close.
Due to safety concerns, the MTR, operator of Hong Kong's railway network, was forced to shut down around 20 stations. Nine bus routes were suspended and 23 more were diverted.
The report room services of the Tsim Sha Tsui police station was suspended.
Rioters started fires in Mong Kok, Yau Ma Tei and Sham Shui Po at night, with a shop of smartphone maker Xiaomi and outlets of mainland funded banks falling victim. Snack chain store Best Mart 360 and traditional medicine shop Tong Ren Tang were also trashed and set ablaze.
Police also said a water cannon truck vehicle accidentally sprayed the front gate of the Kowloon Mosque when dispersing rioters in the afternoon in a statement.
"Following the incident, the police have immediately contacted the Chief Imam as well as Muslim community leaders to clarify the situation," the statement said, stressing that the police respect religious freedom and will strive to protect all places of worship.
The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region condemned the continued violent incidents in a statement at Sunday night, adding that the lawless acts seriously damaged social order and endangered other people's safety.
The government called on residents not to participate in illegal assemblies and give rioters a chance to make destruction.