Nov. 11 (UPI) — A Hong Kong police officer shot a pro-democracy protester early Monday as demonstrators blocked roads and stopped traffic as part of a citywide general strike.
The officer fired three shots at two protesters, one of whom was struck and fell to the ground, according to a graphic video of the event posted to Facebook by Cupid Producer. The shooting followed a short scuffle between the officer and a protester at an intersection in the Sai Wan Ho neighborhood, though the cause of the altercation is unknown as is the condition of the man who was shot.
In a statement, Hong Kong Police said an officer discharged his service weapon, resulting in a male being shot. It denied, however, allegations that management informed officers to “recklessly use” their firearms.
“Police clarifies that this allegation is totally false and malicious,” police said in the release. “Police has strict guidelines and order regarding the use of firearms. All police officers are required to justify their enforcement actions.”
The shooting occurred as protesters across the embattled semi-autonomous region attempted to instigate a general strike by disrupting traffic through erecting barricades at major thoroughfares. Train service was also affected by protests, with lines suspended and stations closed due to “an escalation of the situation,” MTR said on its website. Police said protesters threw petrol bombs to disrupt the MTR service.
In a release, Hong Kong Police referred to the demonstrators as “radical protesters” and said officers were working to clear the roads.
“Police warn the protesters to stop their illegal acts immediately,” the police force said in a press release.
Protesters had called for an escalation in demonstrations and for a general strike following Friday’s death of Chow Tsz-lok, a 22-year-old computer science student at Hong Kong University, who succumbed to injuries he sustained days earlier after he fell from a parking garage during protests on Nov. 4.
Police have denied responsibility for his death and said in a release that the incident was under investigation by the Regional Crime Unit of Kowloon East.
Hong Kong Police said it expresses its “profound sadness” over his death and offered its “condolences to his family and friends.”
The shooting followed a weekend of protests fueled by Chow’s death that saw police and demonstrators clash throughout the region that has been home to often violent confrontations since early summer. Protests initially began over a now-shelved extradition bill, but the movement has since grown into a greater pro-democracy push.
Police said 88 people were arrested Sunday for offenses ranging from unlawful assembly to possession of an offensive weapon and wearing face masks.
“Police reiterate that no violent behavior will be tolerated,” police said. “Police will continue to take resolute enforcement action so as to safeguard the city’s public safety and bring all lawbreakers to justice.”