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HKSAR govt condemns new round of violence and vandalism | Updated: 2019-08-25 09:44

The Hong Kong SAR government on Saturday strongly condemned radicals' vandalism and violent acts, after a new round of rioting and violence broke out in three locations of Kowloon, causing severe damage to public property and peace.

Appealing to the radicals to stop the violence so that order can be restored as soon as possible, the government noted the police will strictly act against violent actions.

A total of 29 people - 19 men and 10 women - were arrested for offenses of unlawful assembly, possession of an offensive weapon and assaulting police officers, according to a police statement.

On Saturday afternoon, the radical protesters, decked out in full protest gears, used electric saws to cut down a number of smart lampposts on Sheung Yuet Road of Kwun Tong, for fear of being recognized by the multi-functional lampposts. The government had repeatedly clarified that the smart lampposts do not carry any facial recognition function and would not infringe upon personal privacy.

Apart from blocking roads and paralyzing traffic, the mobs also hurled hard objects and petrol bombs at police officers, causing damage to police vehicles and injuring a reporter.

At around 8 pm, the radical protesters pulled their stunts again in both Wong Tai Sin and Sham Shui Po, by erecting barricades on roads and paralyzing traffic.

The dispersal operation started at around 8 pm after repeated warnings were ignored.

The chaos spread to Telford Plaza at Kowloon Bay and nearby residences. Most of the shops and restaurants shut their shutters down before the protest, and others had to evacuate customers after the protesters brought the battlefield into the mall.

The MTR Corporation closed the stations along the protest route one hour before the protest started at 1 pm to avoid being inflicted again, after the rail operator was criticized for offering free and exclusive ride home for the protesters.

In calling for understanding from the passengers, MTR operations director Adi Lau Tin-shing said in an open letter on Saturday that the decision to shut down part of the Kwun Tong line prior to the protest was made after careful considerations of recent situations.

The MTR Corporation decided to suspend railway services on the active section and close some stations in consideration of the safety of colleagues, passengers, and railway facilities, said Lau.

Recently, some radicals sabotaged CCTV cameras in MTR stations, interfered with gate access, and even damaged station facilities and sprayed graffiti. They also threatened the personal safety of those who tried to dissuade them. These incidents have caused many frontline colleagues to feel that their personal safety was at risk, said Lau.

Lau hoped that the public of Hong Kong can step forward to raise their voice against vandalism and safety threats targeting the MTR stations. In the past few weeks, the MTR has tried many different ways to maintain a safe and orderly rail operation and the company welcomes any suggestions to better cope with the current situation, Lau said.

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