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Hong Kong people"s prayers for a peaceful New Year"s holiday were shattered by violent protests in the heart of the city. Police canceled an anti-government march in progress on Wednesday and arrested 287 people.
Briefing the media on Thursday, Senior Police Superintendent of Hong Kong Island Ng Lok-chun said violent protesters had "hijacked" residents who were participating in the peaceful procession. Coffee shops and bank branches were smashed up, and police officers were attacked with hard objects not long after the march began.
Businesses that were vandalized appeared to have been targeted for having links to the Chinese mainland or a pro-police stance.
It was imperative the procession end early and protesters disperse; otherwise it would pose a safety threat to peaceful demonstrators, Ng said, adding that radicals often seek cover among peaceful people.
Later in the evening, the police intercepted 464 people who they said refused to leave after they blocked major roads in Causeway Bay. Police held 287 of them.
"It was the rioters and their supporters who forced an end to the rally," said Kwok Ka-chuen, chief superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch.
Protest chaos spilled over from Christmas Eve through New Year"s Day. On Sunday, masked hoodlums vandalized several HSBC bank branches in response to the shutdown of a fundraising account for protesters whose transactions the police suspected to be part of a money-laundering scheme.
A few outlets on Hong Kong Island that have business links to the Chinese mainland or openly support the Hong Kong government were either trashed or firebombed. A number of traffic lights also fell victim to the rampage.
Radicals spray-painted the exterior wall of the High Court with words insulting Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam, who had sent three to jail over the 2016 Mong Kok riot.
In Tuen Mun, five people entered a train that was carrying passengers and set it on fire, according to MTR Corp, the city"s railway operator. Gasoline bombs were hurled into a train and bus depot, setting buses on fire.
In all, 307 males and 113 females, aged between 12 and 81, have been arrested over the past few days, the police said. Charges have included possession of offensive weapons, criminal damage and assault causing bodily harm. The 12-year-old was arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly in Mong Kok on New Year"s Eve.
Two officers, one of them in plainclothes, were assaulted by black-clad radicals in separate incidents in Mong Kok on Tuesday and Wednesday. The uniformed officer was in the hospital on Thursday awaiting treatment for injuries to his head and hand. A 19-year-old suspect surnamed Lee was arrested.
Meanwhile, the police are hunting for two men who posed as plainclothes officers and robbed a 63-year-old man of a paper bag containing HK$210,000 ($27,000) in Tuen Mun on New Year"s Day.
The first 11 months of last year saw a 44 percent surge in snatch-and-run thefts and a 28 percent jump in robberies, according to the authorities. The increase was attributed to strained police resources amid the social unrest.personalised silicone wristbands ukcheap wristbands for eventscustom made paracord braceletssilicone bandcreate wristbands online