HONG KONG: A Hong Kong police officer shot at masked protesters on Monday morning, hitting at least two, as anger sparked by the recent death of a student spilled into the rush hour commute.
The shooting, which was broadcast live on Facebook, is the latest escalation in more than five months of seething pro-democracy protests that have engulfed the international financial hub and battered its reputation.
Footage showed a police officer drawing his sidearm in the district of Sai Wan Ho as he tried to detain a masked person at a junction that had been blocked by protesters.
Another masked individual then approached the officer and was shot in the chest area, quickly falling to the ground, clutching their left side.
Seconds later, two more live rounds were fired by the officer during a scuffle and another masked protester went to ground.
Police then detained the two people on the ground.
A pool of blood could be seen near the first individual whose body initially appeared limp, although the person was later filmed conscious and even trying to make a run for it.
The second man was conscious, shouting his name to reporters as he was handcuffed.
Police confirmed an officer had shot two protesters on Monday, saying they were conscious as they were taken to the hospital.
One protester who was shot with a live round Monday morning is in critical condition, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported, citing an unidentified medical source. The protester was sent to Eastern Hospital. A Hospital Authority spokesman couldn’t immediately confirm the condition of the injured person when reached by Bloomberg News.
Hospital authorities earlier said three people were admitted from the incident, one with a gunshot wound.
The person who was shot is undergoing surgery and is in a critical condition, a Hospital Authority spokesman told the BBC.
The spokesman said he was not aware of a second person being injured.
It’s the third time police have shot someone with live rounds since the Hong Kong protests began in June.
The first incident was during protests on 1 October when China was celebrating 70 years of communist rule. The second case was a teenage boy shot in the leg on 4 October.
The Monday morning shootings happened as protesters tried to block a junction at Sai Wan Ho on the north-east of the island.