Early this morning, the streets of Hong Kong erupted into violent conflict as unidentified protesters attacked with bricks and bottles and police responded with batons, pepper spray and even fired two “warning shots” into the night sky.
Hong Kong police are blaming “radical elements” with “makeshift weapons and shields” for the violence. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government has “strongly condemned” the actions of the protesters. In total, 23 have been arrested, while 48 officers were injured in the clash, SCMP reports.
The setting was a street hawker protest in the busy shopping district of Mong Kok that quickly escalated into something much more when police put on protective gear and tried to clear one street of hawkers while being bombarded with projectiles. “The situation then spiraled out of control and became a riot,” police said.
Scenes from the “fishball revolution”:
Posted by Man Sing Sin on Monday, February 8, 2016
Protesters were seen prying up stones from the sidewalk to throw at police. Police were also seen throwing them back at protesters.
By 2am, police drew guns on the protesters and fired two warning shots into the sky. Mong Kok district commander Yau Siu-kei said that his officers felt seriously threatened and had “no choice but to protect their colleagues.”
In this video, shot by HKFP’s Kris Cheng, two gun shots can be heard at 1:36 and 1:41:
Two gun shots could be heard at 01.36 and 01.41, five seconds apart.Filmed by Kris Cheng
Posted by Real Hong Kong News on Monday, February 8, 2016
Protesters were seen breaking the windows of police cars parked in the area:
Police are investigating whether the riot was organized. They say that vehicles were arranged to transport equipment. Protesters were well-equipped with makeshift weapons, shields, helmets, gloves and goggles. Some were even armed with long bamboo poles:
Notably, the Hong Kong localist group Hong Kong Indigenous has been blamed for taking part in the riot with spokesman Edward Leung Tin-kei being arrested. As the fighting began, the group announced on Facebook that they were holding an impromptu march through the Mong Kok night market for Leung’s Legislative Council candidacy. They urged followers to bring along protective gear including face masks.
Additionally, Stephen Ku, the new editor-in-chief of The Undergrad, a University of Hong Kong student magazine was seen shoved inside a police car by officers.
On their Facebook page, Passion Times posted a video of one woman being hit by police, causing blood to flow from her head.
Posted by PassionTimes 熱血時報 on Monday, February 8, 2016
If you want to see more, check out this live video of the night from Apple Daily:
Posted by 現場 － 蘋果突發 on Monday, February 8, 2016
And here’s a live look now. Some streets and the Mong Kong MTR station was closed following the riots:
— Josh Chin 李肇华 (@joshchin) February 9, 2016
[Images & Video via Real Hong Kong News / Passion Times / Apple Daily / SCMP / Kris Cheng / NetEase]