By Agence France-Presse
HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong police shot a pro-democracy protestor in the chest on Tuesday as violent clashes erupted across the city hours after China held a massive military parade in Beijing to celebrate 70 years of Communist Party rule.
It was the first such injury from a live round in nearly four months of increasingly violent protests and threatened to strip the spotlight from China’s carefully-choreographed birthday party, designed to underscore its status as a global superpower.
While President Xi Jinping took salutes from some 15,000 troops in the capital, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong threw eggs at his portrait, with tens of thousands of people defying police orders to disperse.
Running battles raged for hours across multiple locations, with some hardcore protesters hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails, while police responded for the most part with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.
But in one area north of the skyscraper district, a police officer unloaded his weapon at close range into a young man, video footage showed.
“An officer discharged his firearm after coming under attack and a protester was struck in the chest in Tsuen Wan district today,” a police source said, requesting anonymity.
The wounded protester received initial first aid from officers before paramedics arrived and took him to hospital, the source added.
Many of the fights in the city were especially fierce with police in one district having corrosive liquid thrown at them and officers in another area retreating into a town hall from projectile-throwing crowds.
Burning barricades sent a pall of black smoke over the city, a regional hub for some of the world’s biggest banks.
The violence cast a shadow over the lavish parade in Beijing where tanks, new nuclear missiles and a supersonic drone paraded down the Avenue of Eternal Peace as Xi and other Communist Party leaders watched from a rostrum overlooking Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
The event was meant to showcase China’s journey from a poor nation broken by war to the world’s second-largest economy.