July 21 (UPI) — Hong Kong police have made the “largest seizure” of explosives on the eve of the latest protests of an extradition bill that would allow some extradition of suspects to mainland China to face trial.
Police said in a news conference Saturday that they have arrested a 27-year-old man on suspicion of possessing explosives and weapons in connection with a raid of a homemade laboratory in the industrial area of Tsuen Wan.
Police found 4.4 pounds of high explosives, traicetone or triperoxide, or TAP, which was “extremely powerful” and unstable in the raid, Supt. Alick McWhirter, of the explosive ordnance disposal unit, said.
“I think without a doubt, this is the largest seizure [of high explosives] we have ever come across in Hong Kong,” McWhirter said.
Police also found 10 petrol bombs, corrosive acid, knives and metal rods on the premises, Steve Li, senior superintendent of the organized crime and triad bureau said. They have also confirmed the suspect as a member of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Front with clothes bearing the National Front’s logo and leaflets promoting the anti-extradition protest march on the premises.
National Front spokesperson Baggio Leung told Hong Kong Free Press that they have not been able to confirm yet why explosives were found there, and will expect more information to become available once the suspect is released on bill.
Police warn of possible violence at Sunday’s protest against the bill as other weekly mass protests since June 9 have ended in violent conflicts. The extradition bill would allow individual suspects to be extradited to mainland China to face trial where critics fear they could face human rights violations.
The warning came on the same day that thousands of pro-government supporters took part in a rally asking Hong Kong residents to give embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam more time to recover from the political crisis. Lam has said the extradition bill “is dead,” but that hasn’t stopped protesters from demanding her resignation, an official withdrawal from the bill, and an investigation into police brutality, and retraction of her description of protesters as “rioters.”
In a separate news conference, police said the discovery of explosives is the reason they have barred the Sunday protest from finishing in Central, the heart of Hong Kong’s business district, as the organizers, the Civil Human Rights Front, had planned. Instead, police said the march will to end in Wanchai, before it reaches Admiralty, the government headquarters and Central.
“In recent days, after the end of protests . . . some used the opportunity to create chaos, this includes blocking roads, charging police cordon lines and even damaging public properties and attacking police officers,” Chief Supt. John Tse, of the police public relations branch, said. “These [attacks] make us anxious about the situation tomorrow.”