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Officer on Leave After Firing Sponge Grenade: Hong Kong Update

Officer on Leave After Firing Sponge Grenade: Hong Kong Update

Officer on Leave After Firing Sponge Grenade: Hong Kong Update(Bloomberg) -- Soldiers from China’s People’s Liberation Army soldiers left their Hong Kong barracks for the first time since unrest broke out to join residents and workers in cleaning up after a week of some of the worst violence in five months.On Saturday morning, workers removed the debris from Tolo Highway beneath the bridge blockaded by protesters, while in Kowloon Tong a group of PLA soldiers in T-shirts and shorts helped clear the area before jogging in squads back to their nearby garrison, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.On Friday, a five-day standoff between protesters and police at Chinese University of Hong Kong ended as the activists evacuated their makeshift fortress. Earlier, vice chancellor Rocky Tuan made a fresh appeal for demonstrators , who had built barricades and taken over certain buildings, to leave campus.The city’s government is trying to step up measures to halt escalating violence in the financial center, after a week of countless incidents of vandalism, angry clashes between opposing sides and two deaths linked to the conflict.Key developments:City’s No. 2 promises measures to halt violenceProtesters return to city’s streetsHong Kong justice minister hurt in LondonXi urges immediate end to disorderGovernment worker dies; 15-year-old still in hospitalTwo German citizens reportedly detained by policeHere’s the latest (all times local):Police officer put on leave (9:47 p.m.)Hong Kong police are investigating an incident where an officer fired a sponge grenade while asking reporters to leave the scene during clashes with protesters on early Saturday morning. The officer involved is currently on leave, according to a statement from the government.Various media reports said a riot police officer fired a 40mm react round at a Commercial Radio reporter. Police reiterated that they fully respect the freedom of the press.In a separate development, the police and protesters are clashing outside of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology where petrol bombs and tear gas have been exchanged.City mops up (4 p.m.)Residents in Pokfulam and Kowloon Tong banded together to clear the blockaded streets, forming human chains to load skips of the bricks and rubble that covered the area. PLA soldiers in Kowloon Tong ferried buckets and wheelbarrows of debris off the roads before returning to their base in the district, RTHK reported.Chinese troops have been stationed in Hong Kong since the British handed the city back to China in 1997. But the city government has never requested deployment. In 2018, more than 400 soldiers helped clear fallen trees following Typhoon Mangkhut, the first time they had undertaken such a role.University occupation ends (3 a.m.)Protesters who occupied the CUHK campus for about a week had left the campus, according to a university spokesman. Police and workers cleared the streets early Saturday and all lanes were re-opened on Tolo Highway, which had been blocked by demonstrators.German Citizens Reportedly Detained by Police (2:31 a.m.)Two German citizens were detained by Hong Kong police amid the continuing protests, Deutsche Welle reported, citing an official at Germany’s foreign ministry. The two Germans are receiving assistance from the country’s consulate in Hong Kong, according to the report. Police in Hong Kong said two foreign men were detained during a demonstration in Tuen Mun, according to Reuters.Chinese University of Hong Kong Appeals To Protesters To End Siege (Sat. 12:27 a.m.)CUHK vice chancellor Rocky Tuan appealed to protesters to stop their siege of his campus, urging them in a letter to leave the university. The university had previously canceled classes for the remainder of the semester and asked students and staff to leave the premises. He said that if the university can’t clear out the protesters, it would have “no choice” but to ask the government to help resolve the situation.University heads call for all to ‘work together’ to bring peace (10:45 p.m.)Nine university presidents urged the government to take the lead in ending the political deadlock and restoring order as their campuses become “major political battlefields,” according to a joint statement.Demands that university disciplinary processes can fix the problem are “disconnected from reality” and the government’s response so far has not been effective, they said. “We call on all quarters of society to work together to bring peace and order back to Hong Kong.”City’s No. 2 vows more measures (6:07 p.m.)Cheung, the city’s chief secretary, promised “more decisive measures” to halt protest violence, including suspending civil servants who are arrested during demonstrations. Cheung -- joined by Civil Service Secretary Joshua Law, Transport Secretary Frank Chan, Education Secretary Kevin Yeung and Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Secretary Patrick Nip -- said departments would step up coordination.Law said that civil servants should make it their their responsibility to suppress violence. While Cheung declined to rule out further invocations of the city’s powerful Emergency Regulations Ordinance, he reaffirmed that the city would hold District Council elections as planned Nov. 24.Overwhelming support for inquiry (4:45 p.m.)Some 80% of Hong Kong adults want the government to set up an independent commission of inquiry to examine the use of force by police throughout Hong Kong’s recent unrest, according to a new survey by Hong Kong Public Opinion Program. That’s up from 77% earlier this month.An inquiry is one of the five demands that protesters have been chanting about in marches throughout the city for months, but the government has so far ruled out any further political concessions.Hong Kong expects recession (4:30 p.m.)Hong Kong revised down its estimate for economic growth this year, with the government now forecasting the first annual contraction since the global financial crisis a decade ago. Gross domestic product will contract 1.3% in 2019 from the previous year, the government said Friday as it released final output calculations for the third quarter.The government said ending the city’s violent unrest is key to an economic recovery.Police classify death as murder (1:31 p.m.)Police upgraded their probe into the injury of a 70-year-old government worker to a murder investigation after the man died overnight. The man was struck in the head by an object during a scuffle Wednesday between protesters who had set up road blocks and others who were attempting to clear them.The man appeared to be filming in the direction of a group of black-clad protesters when one of them “deliberately threw” an object at him, Chan Tin-chu, senior superintendent for criminal investigations in New Territories North, told reporters at a briefing Friday. The victim didn’t participate in the argument or the attempt to clear the road blocks, Chan said.Protesters start lunchtime rallies (12:40 p.m.)Groups of protesters begin gathering in the financial district for a lunchtime rally, one of several planned across the city. Many wore masks and carried umbrellas.Protesters also began assembling in the bustling Causeway Bay shopping district and in Tai Koo, on the eastern side of Hong Kong Island.Chinese officials condemn attack (12:15 p.m.)The Chinese government raised strong objections to the U.K. consulate in Hong Kong regarding the attack on the city’s justice secretary in London on Thursday. The Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong also urged the U.K. government and police to punish those responsible for the attack on Teresa Cheng, according to a statement.\--With assistance from Daniel Flatley, Colin Keatinge, Dandan Li and Jacob Gu.To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.net;Natalie Lung in Hong Kong at flung6@bloomberg.net;Dominic Lau in Hong Kong at dlau92@bloomberg.net;Shelly Banjo in Hong Kong at sbanjo@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Stanley James, Kurt SchusslerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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