Hong Kong, Jul 22: At least 45 people were injured in unprecedented late-night violence at a Hong Kong railway station on Sunday, as a rampaging mob of men in white T-shirts attacked black-clad protesters and passengers indiscriminately.
No police officer was in sight as dozens of men, who witnesses suggested were triad gangsters, stormed into Yuen Long MTR station at around midnight by forcing open closed entrances. They hurled objects at protesters and travellers alike, and assaulted members of the public, including journalists.
Some people protected themselves with umbrellas, while others tried to fight back by hurling helmets at them, SCMT reported. By the time riot police arrived, local residents were furious and accused them of deliberately letting the assailants run wild.
By 0230 hrs, at least 45 people had been sent to one of three nearby hospitals or had sought treatment there themselves, according to the Hospital Authority.
Trains had been bypassing the station since 11pm because of a previous rampage by the same or similar mob of men in white T-shirts attacking protesters returning from another anti-government mass march opposing the now-suspended extradition bill in the heart of the city’s financial district.
While protesters in Wan Chai, Central and Sheung Wan were facing off with riot police, at around 2230 hrs, the attackers ran onto trains, using rods to attack passengers and chase after anyone wearing black, witnesses said.
The government condemned the attacks in statement released after midnight.
The statement said: “In Yuen Long, some people congregated at the platforms of the MTR station and train compartments, attacking commuters. It led to confrontations and injuries.”
“This is absolutely unacceptable to Hong Kong as a society that observes the rule of law. The [government] strongly condemns any violence and will seriously take enforcement actions.”
Stunning video clips circulating online and played on television screens captured the chaos and terror as passengers scrambled for cover.
Among the injured was opposition lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, who was bleeding from his face, and a female reporter with injuries on her arm.
Police officers, who arrived at the station at 2315 hrs, when the mob was gone, were surrounded by dozens of angry residents and protesters.
In an early morning press conference, police officials said they saw no steel rods in the village and noticed nothing criminal.
'We have not made any arrests because we can’t be sure of those involved,' said Yau Nai-keung, assistant commander of Yuen Long District. 'Even those dressed in white, that doesn’t mean they are involved in the brawl. We will handle each case fairly – no matter the political camp [a suspect] belongs to." (UNI)