Police 'Intended to Kill' Hong Kong Protester by Shooting Him in the Chest at Point-blank Range, Activists Say

Police have fired live rounds at crowds of protesters in Hong Kong, wounding at least one person, as tens of thousands take to the streets in the latest round of anti-government protests.

Tensions were already running high on Tuesday as Beijing marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Activists marched across the city in defiance of a police ban on demonstrations, raising the likelihood of more violent clashes.

But in a disturbing turn of events and a severe escalation, police fired live rounds at activists, wounding at least one person, AFP reported. Alleged video of the incident is circulating on Twitter, showing a police officer firing a single shot from his revolver into the chest of an armed protester at point-blank range.

This marks the first time a protester has been shot by police since the mass protests erupted in June. Though police have previously fired warning shots, none have been aimed directly at activists.

The pro-democracy Demosisto organization shared the video on Twitter, and said the shot was "intended to kill." Just days ago, the group warned that Hong Kong "is on the brink of a bloody crackdown."

The shooting occurred on Hoi Pa Street in the Tsuen Wan area of the city, north of Hong Kong island. The South China Morning Post said that the wounded protester is currently in critical condition at the Princess Margaret Hospital and is undergoing surgery.

Unconfirmed reports have identified the victim as a high-school student in Form 5, equivalent to Grade 11 in the U.S., making him 16 or 17 years old.

Chaotic violence was taking place across the territory on Tuesday, as black smoke from multiple fires hung over the downtown area. The city is on lockdown, with much of the subway system suspended and many stations closed.

The Hong Kong hospital authority said at least 15 people were wounded in Tuesday's clashes, one—believed to be the shot protester—critically.

There are unconfirmed reports that a second protester was shot in the hand during clashes, also in Tsuen Wan. Images on Twitter showed an activist sat holding his bleeding hand.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the demographic profile of protesters in Hong Kong.

hong kong protester demographics statista
Demographic profile of protesters in Hong Kong. Statista

Extreme violence has become routine in clashes between protesters and police over the past few weeks. Though the majority of demonstrators remain peaceful, small groups have armed themselves against the police. Ever since the mass protests erupted in June, the Hong Kong police have faced accusations of unprovoked violence, brutality and torture.

Other footage from Tuesday's running battles showed one officer firing warning shots into the air to disperse a crowd that attacked a police vehicle on the Waterloo Road in Kowloon.

A large group of protesters armed with sticks and projectiles attacked the vehicle. Police jumped out and began beating them, before one officer lost his footing and was set upon by activists. A fellow officer then fired two warning shots into the air to chase the crowd away. After they dispersed, at least two of the officers could be seen sporting bloody head wounds.

Elsewhere, police have accused protesters of using corrosive liquid that injured "multiple police officers and reporters" in Tuen Mun close to the Chinese border. The force shared images on Twitter that it said showed chemical burns on officers' bodies and holes in their uniforms.

police, shoot, hong kong, protester, China
Police tackle and arrest pro-democracy protesters during clashes in Wan Chai on October 01, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Chris McGrath/Getty Images/Getty

This article was updated to include an infographic.

Police 'Intended to Kill' Hong Kong Protester by Shooting Him in the Chest at Point-blank Range, Activists Say | News