Anger at Hong Kong police after triads attack protesters
Petrified screams fill a metro carriage as people scramble from stick-wielding thugs; a pregnant woman lies motionless after repeated blows; a young man pleads for mercy on his knees, only to be smacked in the face.
In the age of live-streaming, Hong Kong residents yesterday woke up to the sickening horror of a vicious assault on pro-democracy protesters and innocent bystanders by suspected triad gangsters in the city's Yuen Long district.
Pictures of bloodied faces, gashed heads and bruised limbs overwhelmed social media channels after the attack, which left 45 wounded and one in a critical condition.
Panic-filled cries, captured in footage of hordes of white-shirted men terrorising passengers with sticks and poles, struck deep in a city already reeling from a profound political crisis.
The seemingly coordinated assault, on protesters returning from a huge pro-democracy march, marked a dramatic escalation in the turmoil that has plagued the financial centre for six weeks.
What began as demonstrations against a contested extradition bill has now widened into a rallying cry for democracy, igniting an outpouring of anger over Chinese rule and shrinking freedoms.
The brutal scenes at the train station in the New Territories, close to the Chinese mainland, have raised concerns the city's feared pro-Beijing triad gangs are wading into the political conflict.
Yesterday, footage of the violence on public train televisions mesmerised passengers heading out to the suburb of Yuen Long, where criminal gangs and pro-Beijing rural committees are influential.
The blood had been washed from the station tiles and replaced with a strong stench of disinfectant. Police officers have been accused of taking more than an hour to reach the site and failing to arrest the armed assailants.
Lam Cheuk-ting, a politician admitted to hospital after the incident, accused the police of failing to protect the public. "Is Hong Kong now allowing triads to do what they want, beating up people on the street with weapons?" he asked.
On the walls of the Yuen Long police headquarters, critics had slapped posters accusing police of working with triads. Inside, Enzo Tang, a young father and construction worker, screamed at officers over their inaction.
He said he had been attacked for no reason as he returned home, revealing a spreading bruise on his elbow, and a video of the man who allegedly struck him. His phone record showed he had tried to call the police eight times, but he claimed he had been constantly disconnected.
Stephen Lo, the commissioner of police, strongly rejected allegations of collusion between his officers and triads. He blamed the delay on the lack of manpower, as many officers had been deployed to deal with Sunday's protests.
Demonstrators and riot police clashed after thousands broke away from a huge anti-government march to besiege the office of Beijing's representative in the city.
Protesters were pushed back by riot police firing tear gas and rubber bullets. In an ominous sign of Beijing losing patience, state media called the move a "blatant challenge to the central government" that would not be tolerated. (© Daily Telegraph, London)