By The Washington Post
Ryan Ho Kilpatrick and Anna Kam
The incident occurred in Sai Wan Ho as activists attempting to block a busy street were confronted by a traffic police officer, according to a live news feed. After the officer began grappling with one protester, he fired a live round into the abdomen of another protester approaching him. Two more rounds were subsequently fired at another protester.
A police representative confirmed that live rounds were fired and that two protesters were injured outside the Sai Wan Ho MTR station and taken to Eastern Hospital. A 21-year-old man was in critical condition, hospital officials said.
Seven universities across Hong Kong suspended classes as of Monday morning, citing “serious traffic disruptions” across the city.
The city has been gripped by five months of political unrest that began when Chief Executive Carrie Lam tried to push through an unpopular extradition bill that would have allowed criminal suspects in Hong Kong to face trial in mainland China.
A protester who fell from a parking garage during a police dispersal operation a week earlier died of his injuries on Friday, escalating tensions between police and the public that have been increasingly strained over the months of worsening violence.
On Oct. 1, China’s National Day, the first live round to hit a protester was fired by riot police pursued by protesters in the distant suburb of Tsuen Wan.
Public anger has grown as Hong Kong authorities, backed by Chinese officials, have deployed increasingly forceful tactics to try to quell the anti-government unrest. Lam has refused to authorize an independent inquiry of police actions, a key demand of protesters.
At the University of Hong Kong, police fired tear gas early Monday to disperse crowds. Several subway exits leading to the campus were vandalized and riot police shut down a main entrance to the campus.
Protesters built barricades around the campus using picnic tables and desks and poured liquid detergent on the floor.
Without an independent investigation of police actions, “the protests aren’t going to stop,” said Jackie, 22, a research scientist who was photographing her friends ahead of their planned graduation ceremony on Monday. She gave only one name out of fear of retribution.
In recent days, a panel of experts brought in by the Hong Kong government found that the city’s police watchdog was unfit to carry out an independent investigation of the police force.
Chinese officials, meanwhile, have backed Lam and called for tough measures to end the protests and safeguard national security.
Protesters are calling for full democracy in Hong Kong amid concerns that Beijing is tightening its grip and reneging on a promise to allow the financial hub a high degree of autonomy until 2047, half a century after its handover from British colonial rule.
(Shibani Mahtani in Washington and Casey Quackenbush in Hong Kong contributed to this report.)