Fierce clashes between pro-democracy protesters and police broke out in multiple parts of Hong Kong on Tuesday, with at least one person shot and 31 wounded, in the most widespread violence challenging Chinese rule as the Communist Party celebrated its 70th year in power.
Hong Kong police confirmed an officer shot the protester in the chest. As well, two of the wounded are in critical condition, Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority said at 6 p.m. local time.
Video of the apparent shooting spread quickly on social media. The footage appears to show an officer opening fire as a protester comes at him with a baton, striking the officer’s shooting arm.
Taken by the City University Student Union, the video shows a dozen black-clad protesters hurling objects at a group of riot police and closing in on the lone officer, who is seen pointing his revolver and opening fire at the protester. The protester then collapses onto the street, bleeding from below his left shoulder.
Another demonstrator rushes in to try to drag away the injured protester, and is tackled by an officer as gasoline bomb lands in the middle of the group of officers in an explosion of flames.
Watch: Hong Kong police fire tear gas at National Day protesters
Hong Kong police fire tear gas at National Day protesters
Police in Hong Kong fired multiple rounds of tear gas to disperse pro-democracy protesters as Communist China marked its 70th anniversary. 0:43
The shooting marked a dramatic escalation in a city already on edge as violence has spread to multiple areas.
The smell of stinging tear gas and smoke from street fires started by hundreds of protesters engulfed the Wan Chai, Wong Tai Sin, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun, Tsuen Wan and Tsim Sha Tsui areas. Protesters hurled gasoline bombs, bricks and other objects at police, who responded with volleys of tear gas.
Dozens of officers formed a security cordon, backed by a water cannon truck, to prevent protesters from advancing to Beijing’s liaison office in the city on National Day.
Earlier Tuesday morning, police used pepper spray to break up a brief scuffle between Beijing supporters and pro-democracy protesters during the government’s solemn ceremony. An annual fireworks display had been called off two weeks ago.
Police lined up to separate the demonstrators and counter-protesters, but minor scuffles ensued. Two pro-Beijing protesters were arrested.
A security clampdown in the city to thwart the unrest that would embarrass Chinese President Xi Jinping failed to deter the protests, including a massive march in the city centre.
Organizers said at least 100,000 people marched along a broad city thoroughfare in defiance of a police ban, chanting anti-China slogans, with some carrying Chinese flags defaced with a black cross. Police didn’t provide an estimate of the turnout.
“Today we are out to tell the Communist Party that Hong Kong people have nothing to celebrate,” said activist Lee Cheuk-yan. “We are mourning that in 70 years of Communist Party rule, the democratic rights of people in Hong Kong and China are being denied. We will continue to fight.”
Protesters used umbrellas as shields and threw tear gas canisters back at police. Police said protesters used corrosive fluid in Tuen Mun, injuring officers and some reporters.
In Wong Tai Sin, a gasoline bomb that protesters hurled at police exploded near motorcycles parked along a pavement, creating a large blaze that was put out by firefighters. Some protesters placed an emergency water hose down a subway station to try to flood it.
A water cannon truck sprayed blue water, used to identify protesters, to disperse crowds from advancing to government offices in the city.
Protesters mark anniversary as ‘day of grief’
Many shopping malls across Hong Kong were shut amid fears of chaos. Posters in the city called for the Oct. 1 anniversary to be marked as a “day of grief.”
Dressed in a black T-shirt and dark jeans, 40-year-old Bob Wong said his clothing expressed “mourning” over “the death of Hong Kong’s future.”
Watch: Hong Kong protesters throw gas bombs at police
Hong Kong protesters throw gas bombs at police
Protesters in Hong Kong threw gas bombs at police amid pro-democracy demonstrations in the territory. 0:45
Black-clad Yvonne Ng, 67, fumed over the arrest of many young people in the months-long protests. “We’re not celebrating National Day,” she said as she ambled through the Causeway Bay shopping district.
The popular LIHKG online chat forum used by protesters was inaccessible on cellphones, believed to have been hacked to prevent communication by protesters.
Earlier, Hong Kong Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung told hundreds of guests at a reception that the city has become “unrecognizable” due to violent acts by protesters. Cheung was representing the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, who led a delegation to Beijing to join National Day festivities there.
Cheung said Beijing fully supports the one-country, two-systems framework that gives Hong Kong freedoms and rights not enjoyed on the mainland. The system was implemented when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. The protests began in early June over a now-shelved extradition bill that activists say was an example of how those promises have been eroding.