At least four people have been stabbed and one has had their ear partially bitten off in an attack following a protest at a Hong Kong shopping centre, according to local media reports.
Images from the scene show bloodied protesters and a discarded knife near the Cityplaza shopping mall in Hong Kong Island’s Taikoo district, where a peaceful protest had been taking place as part of pro-democracy activism in the region.
Four people were confirmed to be severely injured in the attack.
Lo Kin-hei, vice chairperson of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong, said one of its district councillors, Andrew Chiu, was raced to hospital after an assailant appeared to bite off part of his ear.
The councillor, who oversees the Taikoo Shing area where the incident took place, was seen covered in blood with his severed ear held in a plastic bag.
Video from the scene appeared to show an attacker clinging around the politician’s neck, with surrounding protesters working to subdue the alleged assailant by punching and throwing him to the ground.
Activists in the country have blamed the incident on opponents of the ongoing protests that have rocked the semi-autonomous Chinese region in recent months.
“Pro-Beijing camp complains about violence, but so far, the most brutal physical violent acts were done by police and their supporters,” Lo Kin-hei said, adding: “Just now, District Councillor Andrew Chiu was attacked, his left ear halved from a bite.”
Pro-democracy campaigner Joshua Wong said: “My close colleague Dr Andrew Chiu was assaulted in his constituency ... His left ear was brutally halved. I strongly condemn these violent attacks especially targeting election candidates.”
The attack coincided with mass peaceful protests in the city’s shopping malls – including in Cityplaza where hundreds met to sing and chant pro-democracy slogans.
However the protests descended into another night of violence after riot police stormed the premises and entered into a bloody face-off with activists, accusing them of vandalising a restaurant.
While the extradition bill that sparked the protests was formally shelved by Hong Kong’s government last month, demonstrators have continued to campaign for change.
A regular chant during the action is “Five demands, not one less”, a reference to the other goals of the movement including the resignation of leader Carrie Lam and an investigation into police brutality.
However Ms Lam has refused to step down from her role, instead attempting to resolve what she believes to be core issues stoking tensions in the region including jobs and housing in what has become one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in.
While the protests continued Ms Lam announced she would head to Beijing on Tuesday to discuss the Greater Bay Area economic plan, which aims to better link Hong Kong and Macau to other major hubs in the region.
The project aims to help Hong Kong residents work and live in mainland Chinese cities, while bolstering the flow of people and goods, Lam’s office said in a statement.
But the plan has also sparked concerns over China’s growing influence over the territory. Many protesters fear Beijing is slowly infringing on the freedoms guaranteed to Hong Kong when the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.
Additional reporting by AP
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