Hong Kong protests: 14-year-old boy 'shot by police officer' as thousands demonstrate against new mask ban

Child is receiving treatment for wound to the leg, according to reports

Vincent Wood
Friday 04 October 2019 18:08 BST
Plain-clothed police officer attacked by protesters with petrol bomb in Hong Kong

A 14-year-old boy has allegedly been shot by a police officer as protests continue to rage in Hong Kong, according to local media reports.

The boy is believed to have suffered a wound to the leg following the incident, and is receiving medical treatment in hospital. He is reported to be in a serious condition.

It follows the latest round of public action in the semi-autonomous Chinese state, with tensions flaring up over the introduction of a new law banning the wearing of masks in public spaces.

A source from the Hong Kong police told the South China Morning Post a plain clothes officer was in an unmarked car when his windows were smashed. After getting out of the vehicle and being grabbed by the neck, they claimed he opened fire in self defence.

In a statement the police added: "“The officer fell to the ground, he fired one shot as his life was under serious threat”.

However officials were unable to confirm whether anyone had been struck by the officer's bullets - and instead used the statement to warn that a protestor who may have picked up the officer's magazine of bullets in the ensuing chaos must return the ammunition, or face a potential maximum sentence of 14 years behind bars and a fine of HK$100,000 (£10,335).

Unverified footage from the scene shared by Hong Kong's Apple Daily news outlet showed the alleged officer fighting with protestors after having dropped the gun.

He later fled the scene after having a petrol bomb thrown at his feet.

It marks the second use of gunfire in the last week by officers, who have more typically utilised tear gas and water canon to disrupt protest action since it began in March.

Earlier this week an activist was shot in the chest by police firing live rounds, with officials confirming an officer had opened fire in the Tsuen Wan area, and that a protester had been hit.

At the time the man's friend told reporters he was in a critical condition at Princess Margaret hospital in Kwai Chung.

It comes after Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam invoked rarely used emergency laws to ban the wearing of face masks at protests, a move which provoked an angry backlash from the pro-democracy movement.

Ministers said the law would make it easier to identify and prosecute those taking part in the sorts of violent protests that have plagued the city since the unrest began in June.

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Ms Lam announced the measure at a news conference on Friday, saying her government could not stand by as Hong Kong entered a “state of extensive and serious public danger”.

The text of the emergency anti-mask law, handed out to reporters, stated that protesters wearing masks faced up to one year in prison. Anyone on the street who refuses to remove a face mask when asked to do so by a police officer will be liable to up to six months in prison, it said.

Masks are one of a range of anonymity-preserving methods used by activists, who also utilise umbrellas to hide from CCTV cameras and laser pens to frustrate surveillance systems.

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