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'One Step Closer to Terrorism': Hong Kong Police Warn Protesters, Deny Reports of Weekend Curfew

Anti-government demonstrators gather to protest in Central, Hong Kong, China. (Image: REUTERS)

Anti-government demonstrators gather to protest in Central, Hong Kong, China. (Image: REUTERS)

Police spokesman Tse Chun-chung denied his department had been asked to enforce a possible curfew this weekend. A Chinese state media outlet later removed its tweet saying authorities were considering a curfew that cited unidentified sources.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong police warned protesters on Thursday that they were moving one step closer to terrorism by sinking the city into chaos, as riot squads skirmished with militant students at major universities.

Police spokesman Tse Chun-chung denied his department had been asked to enforce a possible curfew this weekend. A Chinese state media outlet later removed its tweet saying authorities were considering a weekend curfew that cited unidentified sources.

"We are aware of the relevant report circulating online, Tse said at a daily briefing, referring to the report as false.

He said the authority to order a curfew lies with Hong Kong's leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, and that's why police are not in a position to comment.

"The force is certainly capable and determined to control Hong Kong's social unrest at the moment. We welcome any new measures that can help us to achieve the goal of restoring the public safety and order in Hong Kong, Tse added.

In unusually harsh language, he said students were turning university campuses into weapons factories and a hotbed of crime.

Their acts are another step closer to terrorism, Tse said, warning of a major disaster if gasoline bombs stored on campuses were to catch fire.

He said violence that broke out this week at Chinese University of Hong Kong is spreading to other campuses "like a cancer cell," mentioning specifically Hong Kong University and Baptist University.

It's time to wake up. No society can tolerate this much senseless violence, he said.

With no end to the protests in sight, the beleaguered police force is appointing a group of prison guards as special constables.

Up to 100 officers from the Correctional Services Department who are already familiar with anti-riot equipment will be given additional training and deployed mainly to guard government premises.

The ongoing riots over the past few months, with their massive scale, simultaneous occurrence in various districts and grave severity of violence, make it necessary to strengthen the support for the police's front-line officers, a statement from the police spokesman's office said.

Residents endured a fourth day of traffic snarls and mass transit disruptions as protesters closed some main roads and rail networks.

Police said protesters shot several arrows at them near Hong Kong Polytechnic University. No officers were injured, and six arrows were seized at the scene, police said.

Life in this city of 7.5 million has been strained as thousands of commuters have been unable to get to work or endured lengthy commutes.

The government appealed for employers to show flexibility. For staff who cannot report for duty on time on account of conditions in road traffic or public transport services, employers should give due consideration to the circumstances, a statement said.

first published:November 14, 2019, 19:34 IST