Nine people, including five men and four women aged between 21 and 34, were arrested in Hong Kong on suspicion of conspiring to manufacture explosives, police said at a press conference yesterday.
Among the suspects were a college student, a teaching assistant a technician and one civilian who claimed to be a member of local radical group, which was not named by police.
The raid was carried out at an abandoned television studio in Sai Kung, where suspects were making and “planning to test” unidentified explosive chemicals, Au Chin-chau, the chief superintendent of the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau, was cited as saying in a NY Times report. Police seized “ingredients of the precursors of TATP, a form of high explosive,” during a home raid later on, he said.
Also recovered during the police raids were maps with the words “Admiralty” and “Wanchai”, both districts in Hong Kong that house government headquarters and were sites of occupation during last year’s Umbrella Revolution movement.
Police have not ruled out whether there is a connection between the arrests and this week’s crucial vote on political reform in Hong Kong which has triggered nightly rallies in the former British colony.
“Preparation of any home-made weapons may not be linked to political reform, but if there were a linkage between radical action and political reform, we would expect a more serious confrontation in Hong Kong in the months ahead,” Professor Sonny Lo from Hong Kong Institute of Education said in a Channel Asia News report.
“The reason is that with ‘localism’ on the rise, ‘Hongkongism’ on the rise, some young radicals are now resorting to more violent preparations.”