Teenagers Among 9 Arrested in Alleged Plot to Bomb Hong Kong Courts, Train Tunnels

Six teenagers and three others were arrested Tuesday in connection with an alleged conspiracy to detonate homemade bombs in Hong Kong courts, train tunnels and trash cans. The detainment was announced as Hong Kong contends with increasing control from China and opposition from residents seeking to maintain freedoms not enjoyed on the Chinese mainland, the Associated Press reported.

Police from the metropolis said that the nine were arrested for suspected terrorist activity under the national security law enacted by Beijing following the anti-government protests in 2019. The group was trying to make triacetone triperoxide (TATP), an explosive, with public areas like courts as their targets "to maximize damage caused to the society," police said.

Many preeminent activists have been arrested because of the law, while others have left Hong Kong, the AP said. If the bombing accusations prove to be true, the group arrested would represent a more extremist faction of the city's protesting population.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Hong Kong Bombing Allegations
Nine people were arrested in connection with an alleged plot to plant bombs around Hong Kong. Above, Senior Superintendent Li Kwai-wah, left, of the Hong Kong Police National Security Department and senior bomb disposal officer Alick McWhirter of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau pose with the confiscated evidence during a news conference on Tuesday. AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Since the 2019 anti-government protests, Hong Kong police have arrested several people over alleged bomb plots and for making TATP, including 17 detained that year in overnight raids that also seized explosives and chemicals.

Nine people between 15 and 39 years old were arrested Tuesday, according to Senior Superintendent Li Kwai-wah of the Hong Kong Police National Security Department.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor said at a weekly news briefing that she hopes the members of the public will "openly condemn threats of violence."

"They should not be wrongly influenced by the idea that...breaking the law is in order if you're trying to achieve a certain cause," she said. "They should not be influenced into thinking that they can find excuses to inflict violence."

Authorities said they seized equipment and raw materials used to make the TATP, as well as a "trace amount" of the explosive. They said they also found operating manuals and about 80,000 Hong Kong dollars ($10,300) in cash.

Police froze about 600,000 Hong Kong dollars ($77,200) in assets that they say may be linked to the plot. Authorities said all nine planned to set off the bombs and then leave Hong Kong for good.

The arrests come as China is increasing its control over Hong Kong, despite a promise to protect the city's civil liberties for 50 years after the city's 1997 handover from Britain. In the most glaring example of that campaign, police arrested at least seven top editors, executives and journalists of the Apple Daily newspaper, which was an outspoken pro-democracy voice, and froze its assets, forcing it to close two weeks ago.

Also on Tuesday, Lam said that an envelope of "white powder" had been sent to her office. Police said that the substance was still being analyzed but that they did not believe it to be dangerous.

Carrie Lam
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor attends a press conference at the Central Government Offices on June 25. Getty Images/Anthony Kwan