The tension is still rising a notch in Hong Long. A policeman fired at least once with his firearm on Sunday, police said, a first in three months of protests in the Chinese semi-autonomous territory. "From what I understand, a colleague has just shot with his gun. What I understand is that it was a uniformed policeman who fired that shot, "a police officer in Hong Kong told reporters as violent clashes erupted between pro-democracy protesters and police in Tsuen Wan, about 10 kilometers from the city center.
"Large-scale disruption of public order".
Police also used water cannons against radical protesters on Sunday, a first in the former British colony shaken by pro-democracy demonstrations. The semi-autonomous territory, one of the world's major financial centers, has been experiencing its worst political crisis since June, when it was handed over to China in 1997. Born out of opposition to a bill – now suspended – aimed at authorizing extradition to mainland China, the movement has turned into a more global campaign for more democracy and the protection of local freedoms against Beijing.
Thousands of Hong Kongers still paraded quietly in the pouring rain on Sunday in the Tsuen Wan area. But radical protesters then erected a barricade and threw cobblestones and Molotov cocktails at the police. After firing tear gas that did not have the desired effect, the riot police used water cannons against the protesters. A sign of escalation, the police have so far always claimed to want to use this technique of dispersion in case of "large-scale disruption of public order."
Current in the West, water cannons are a novelty in Hong Kong where they had not been used against protesters so far. The population is therefore very sensitive to their use.
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Since the beginning of the movement, the reaction of the central government has been mixed. While it has no legal right to intervene directly in Hong Kong, Beijing has used a range of methods, from intimidation to propaganda and economic pressure, to try to contain the opposition. . The MTR – the Hong Kong subway – is currently facing public criticism, after apparently giving in to Chinese official media criticism of the transportation network for serving the protesters' movements.
On Sunday, the transport network closed some stations in the Tsuen Wan district, near the site of the main protest, for the second day in a row. A second gathering of several hundred people, in which police relatives were involved, was also held at another location in the city on Sunday afternoon. A woman claiming to be the wife of a police officer had come to declare her support to the police, believing that they had received enough criticism.
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Ten people hospitalized
"I believe that over the past two months the police have been sufficiently disgraced," she said. "I really want you to know that even if the whole world spits on you, we, family members, will not do it. The police of the territory, regularly blasted by the demonstrators, has been in the center for weeks of the anger of the protesters who accuse him of violence. The police on Saturday charged radical pro-democracy protesters who had erected a barricade in eastern Hong Kong. Scuffles that marked the end of a relative lull of 10 days in the former British colony.
Police fired tear gas and beat protesters who threw stones and bottles. Ten people were hospitalized as a result of the clashes, including two in serious condition, told Agence France-Presse medical personnel, without specifying whether they were police or demonstrators.