Hong Kong saw more violence on Sunday, as anti-government protesters attacked police officers - one of whom was slashed in the neck with a box cutter - vandalised shops with mainland Chinese business ties and trashed MTR stations.
They blocked roads, trashed or firebombed Bank of China outlets, and attacked administrative buildings as well as offices of pro-establishment politicians to mark the 19th straight weekend of protests.
In one of multiple attacks on frontline police, an officer was slashed in the neck with a box cutter during a confrontation in Kwun Tong. He was said to be in a stable condition in hospital, with a 3cm cut, while two suspects were arrested at the scene.
“One rioter used a sharp-edged object to slash the officer’s neck from behind,” the force said in an official statement.
A video circulating online showed a lone riot policeman being attacked by masked, black-clad radical protesters, one of whom drop-kicked the officer as he was trying to make an arrest in Mong Kok. Police said they had tried to snatch his rifle, which he managed to hold on to.
A police van was set ablaze with petrols bombs thrown from above in Sha Tin, while a black-clad undercover officer was beaten by a mob. They took his baton away and threw it down a drain.
Police said radical protesters had trashed and looted a private car used by Identification Bureau officers who were investigating a burglary case not related to the protests.
Sunday’s chaos erupted in the afternoon when groups of protesters, mostly masked and wearing black, launched lightning attacks on targeted stores at several shopping centres, vandalising outlets and restaurants with mainland Chinese ties.
In Cityplaza in Tai Koo, they had forced open the shutters of a Starbucks outlet, operated by the Maxim’s group, and spray-painted its counters and tables with obscenities.
Protesters have been targeting the catering giant for weeks after Annie Wu Suk-ching, daughter of the group’s late founder, spoke up against the movement at a UN meeting.
In New Town Plaza in Sha Tin, protesters trashed Best Mart 360, Lenovo and Huawei shops. Starbucks, Simplylife and Chiuchow Garden, all owned by Maxim’s, were not spared either.
“It’s a way for us to express anger,” a 16-year-old protester in New Town Plaza said, adding that he was upset with businesses which had “sold Hongkongers out”.
“We don’t have any burden any more, therefore we don’t need to care much,” he said, admitting that he did not expect to achieve much through such acts, and had already considered it could turn public sentiment against them.
There were similar outbreaks of vandalism in Tsuen Wan Plaza, Telford Plaza in Kowloon Bay and Popcorn mall in Tseung Kwan O, where a doctor from Tseung Kwan O Hospital was among those arrested.
More than 20 petrol bombs were hurled at Mong Kok Police Station alone.
There were also multiple cases of lone individuals being subjected to violence. Television footage showed two women being separately assaulted and having black paint splashed on their faces while their attackers held up opened umbrellas to hide their actions.
Police said they had adopted a new strategy on Sunday by deploying plain-clothes officers at shops often targeted by protesters.
They arrested seven protesters who vandalised the Best Mart 360 branch at Metroplaza in Kwai Fong.
“We want to impose some deterrent effects by making arrests, with officers ambushing them at the shops,” a police source said.
Police were also seen taking quicker action on Sunday against protesters employing hit-and-run tactics, deploying a faster-moving squad of around 30 tactical unit officers to some scenes instead of the usual practice of waiting to assemble a full contingent of more than 100.
Protesters also continued their attacks against the MTR, accusing the railway operator of colluding with police and bowing to pressure from Beijing.
Meanwhile, more than 100 Hongkongers participated in a peaceful demonstration at the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, where they folded paper cranes and formed a human chain.