In Brief

Hong Kong on the edge as violence worsens

Carrie Lam warns demonstrators after a man is set on fire

Violence in Hong Kong has escalated in recent days with riot police firing tear gas at a university campus, a protester shot and a man set on fire.

A man who confronted a group of pro-democracy protesters was doused in a flammable liquid and set alight in a video widely shared on social media. He is now in hospital in a critical condition.

The protester shot in a separate incident was in a critical condition on Monday morning but police said later there was no immediate threat to his life.

Another man, suspected of taking photographs of demonstrators, was attacked with a hammer. His head, face and hands were covered in blood. The Times says that the violence has entered a “dangerous new phase”.

Riot police have been positioned at metro stations and universities and schools cancelled classes, with locals reported to be “on the edge”. More than 260 people were arrested yesterday alone.

The Guardian says “some of worst violence to rock the Chinese-ruled city in more than five months of anti-government demonstrations” has also seen railway services suspended and roads closed across the Asian financial hub for a second day.

Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said yesterday that the violence has exceeded protesters’ demands for democracy and demonstrators were now to be considered enemies of the people.

In a warning described as “ominous” by CNN, she said the escalating unrest was bringing Hong Kong “to the brink of no return” and insisted that her government would not yield to protesters’ demands. 

The “heightened violence” means Hong Kong has “reached a tipping point that may force mainland China to use military force to stop the protests”, The Times says.

Washington has expressed “grave concern” over the deteriorating state of affairs. “The United States is watching the situation in Hong Kong with grave concern,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said yesterday.

“We condemn violence on all sides, extend our sympathies to victims of violence regardless of their political inclinations, and call for all parties – police and protesters – to exercise restraint.”

The protests began as a reaction to a now-abandoned bill that would have seen those suspected of crimes in Hong Kong facing extradition to China, but over the past few months, the campaign has widened “to encompass general anti-China feeling in the city”, Sky News says.

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