Hong Kong protests: dozens arrested as government warns of 'dangerous situation'

Dozens of people, including a 12-year-old child, have been arrested after a night of escalating violence in Hong Kong during which police fired a warning shot near protesters and used water cannon for the first time.

Police said they arrested 86 people over the weekend for offences including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons and assaulting police officers.

Sunday’s protests were the scene of the fiercest clashes yet between police and demonstrators since violence escalated in mid-June over a now-suspended extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong people to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Police fired water cannon and teargas in running battles with protesters, who threw bricks. Six officers drew their pistols and one officer fired a warning shot into the air, police said in a statement.

Mak Chin-ho, an assistant police commissioner, said violence by demonstrators had led to the police responding with force.

“We have seen an increase in the intensity and extensiveness of violence used by protesters. Their radical acts have intensified with more dangers and sometimes deadly weapons used including bricks, metal posts, long sticks, and petrol bombs,” said Mak.

Hong Kong’s government also condemned the protesters. “The escalating illegal and violent acts of radical protesters are not only outrageous, they also push Hong Kong to the verge of a very dangerous situation.” It said police would “strictly follow up” on illegal acts.

“Police will take relentless enforcement action to bring the persons involved to justice,” it said.

Hundreds of thousands of people had braved rain on Sunday to stage a peaceful, police-sanctioned march in Tsuen Wan, a part of the city noted for its links with triad members, after clashes on Saturday when police fired teargas, rubber bullets, pepper balls and sponge rounds at protesters.

By late afternoon on Sunday, about 100 riot police officers had formed into lines on two streets and protesters began to build makeshift barricades with plastic traffic barriers and bamboo rods in a standoff between the two sides. Just after 6pm local time police fired several rounds of teargas.

The crowd largely remained behind the barricades in the midst of choking smoke while some threw gas canisters back at the police. Protesters also threw bricks and Molotov cocktails at thepolice, with flames seen on the road between the two sides.

Minutes later, police launched another volley of teargas and charged at the protesters as the crowd dispersed. For the first time, police also used two anti-riot vehicles equipped with water cannon to chase away protesters. Several officers drew their guns on protesters and one fired a warning shot.

The scenes of worsening unrest provoked anger in China, where the microblog of the Communist party’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily newspaper, condemned protesters who removed a national flag at the rally before the march and trampled on it. “Such provocation challenges the national dignity and hurt the feelings of 1.4 billion Chinese … It should pay a cost.”

The Hong Kong government said the act challenged the national authority and “allegedly violates” the national flag and national emblem ordinance.

The government-aligned Global Times, meanwhile, hit out at western media for its “biased” coverage of the protests, particularly accounts of how the Hong Kong police officer fired a warning shot.

The news outlet said “biased coverage has put the Hong Kong police in a dangerous position, as stories about police brutality have surfaced in recent weeks. Without considering facts, some Hong Kong reporters have stood by the anti-government protesters, abandoning the fundamentals of neutral and justified reporting”.

Some protesters said they were resorting to violence because the government had not responded to their peaceful demonstrations.

An anti-riot police vehicle equipped with water cannon clears a barricade from the roadAn anti-riot police vehicle equipped with water cannon clears a barricade from the road. Photograph: Jérôme Favre/EPA
 

“The more the government ignores us, the more we have to come out,” said Peggy Tai, who is in her 60s, earlier in the day.

After almost three months of continuous protests, demonstrators remained determined in their fight for political rights.

The wave of protests, which started in early June to oppose an extradition bill under which individuals could be sent to mainland China for trial, has morphed into a broader anti-government, pro-democracy movement.

Demonstrators have five demands: the complete withdrawal of the now-suspended extradition bill; the setting up of an independent body to investigate police violence; a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots”; an amnesty for those arrested; and a resumption of political reform to allow the free election of Hong Kong’s leader and legislature.

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, said last week she would establish platforms for dialogue although protesters dismissed her offer and said she needed to respond to their demands.

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Brazil bus hijacker shot dead by police sniper, hostages released

A man who hijacked a bus on a bridge in Brazil has been shot dead by police after holding the passengers hostage for hours.

The attacker seized the vehicle as it crossed the the Rio-Niteroi bridge with 37 on board at around 6.30am local time Tuesday, stopping it mid-way and prompting all lanes to be shut down by local authorities.

Also on rt.com Bus passengers held hostage as vehicle hijacked on bridge in Brazil (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)...

Police began negotiating with the hijacker and he had released several of the hostages before reportedly attempting to disembark from the vehicle while holding a gun to the head of a captive. Military police said that a sniper “neutralized” the suspect and “all the hostages were released unharmed.”

A spokesperson for the military police told local media that the man was carrying a toy gun. He had earlier threatened to set the bus alight and claimed to have been a former military police officer, but this was disputed by police.

The incident is being investigated by the Niteroi Homicide unit.

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Three explosions rock Sri Lankan city as police search for Easter attackers - reports

Three explosions have reportedly rocked a city on Sri Lanka’s eastern seaboard as the police and the army carry out searches targeting suspects from last weekend’s deadly bombings.

Police have been conducting searches across Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the deadly suicide bombings on churches and hotels which killed more than 250 people. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) claimed responsibility for the bombings. 

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

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More Than 370 Arrested During Carnival in London (+Photos)

London, Aug 28 (Prensa Latina) At least 370 people were arrested for assault and possession of knives during the Notting Hill carnival in the centre of this capital, the Metropolitan Police said today.

'Law enforcement officers seized 36 knives during the celebration, which became a smokescreen for crime in the city,' Commander Dave Musker said Tuesday.

According to Musker, about 30 security personnel were injured while conducting the operations, although the number of detainees may increase.

In 2016, during the 50th anniversary of these carnivals, more than 450 arrests were made, 45 policemen were injured and 16 stabbings were committed, which is considered one of the deadliest.

Analysts insist that two years ago, former Deputy Victoria Borwick led a popular request to move the festival to a less populous place where people could be controlled, but the proposal did not materialize.

According to reports, the homicide rate in the UK has increased by approximately 40 per cent in the last three years, not including deaths caused by terrorist attacks.

At the end of 2017 statistics revealed a 13 per cent increase in crime compared to the previous year, mainly in this capital.

The Independent recently revealed that fatal stabbings occur every three days in London from gang fights.

The Notting Hill carnival is one of the most famous in the world, along with those of Rio de Janeiro and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, but unlike the latter, it has become a battleground for criminals and gang members.

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Ecuadorean Bus Crash Linked to Drug Trafficking

Colombian and Ecuadorean authorities have confirmed the bus that crashed Tuesday leaving 24 dead was carrying cocaine.  

At least 80 kilos of cocaine were found in the Colombian bus that crashed near Papallacta, Ecuador, police authorities announced Thursday.

RELATED: New Details on Bus Crash in Ecuador Creates Mystery

“There are 80 so far, but we haven’t finished counting. It is not the first time they have used tourist buses to smuggle drugs through the border,” a source in Colombia’s Office of the Attorney General told AFP.

The accident occurred Tuesday at 2:55 a.m. and caused 24 deaths and 14 injuries. The case appeared to be a simple transit incident, but the story became progressively strange as authorities realized most of the travelers didn’t have identification, and later learned they were participating in a free trip that covered transport, food, and lodging.   

Police investigations determined the 38 victims were used as drug mules without their knowledge.

Ecuadorean authorities have said they are not surprised by the discovery. This year over two tons of cocaine has been smuggled in international tour buses transporting “beneficiaries” of free trips.

Security forces in both Ecuador and Colombia are collaborating on the investigation to determine the causes of the accident and identify those responsible for the cargo.

Relatives and friends of the victims, most of who come from El Guabal neighborhood, in the city of Cali, claim the free trip was offered by a woman who lives in the community.

So far her identity has not been revealed, but authorities have been told she is a nurse. She was also on the bus during the accident and suffered severe injuries.   

This new mode of trafficking has been witnessed since early 2017 when half a ton of illicit substances were seized in the northern Ecuadorean city of Tulcan.

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Migrants In US Custody Describe Life In 'Ice Boxes' And 'Dog Pounds'

During their detention last month in a US Customs and Border Protection facility in Laredo, Texas, Karen and her two young sons were constantly cold. The family, which fled violence in Honduras, slept on a hard floor in a holding cell without mattresses, she said, their clothes still wet from crossing the Rio Grande.

"I can only hold one at a time to keep them warm. Whoever I am not holding is cold," she said in one of more than 200 sworn statements filed this week in a long-running lawsuit challenging conditions for children in immigration custody.

The statements, which were taken in June and July and identify immigrants only by their first names, provide a rare window into life in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities. Migrants like Karen and her children who crossed into the United States illegally, as well as those who applied for asylum at the border, are often held in such facilities before being released or transferred to longer-term detention centres.

A nursing mother named Serafin, who said she fled Mexico after a cartel member threatened to rape her and kill her baby, said she was given too little food at a facility in San Ysidro, California.

"I am not producing enough breast milk to feed my baby because I am not eating enough," she said in her statement. "My daughter cries a lot because she is hungry."

A woman named Mayra said her 9-year-old son became fearful after their detention in Nogales, Arizona, where he saw children separated from their parents.

"He saw someone bound with chains and asked me whether I would be chained in the same way," she said. "He wonders when we will get to the United States. I do not tell him that we are already here. He wouldn't believe that the United States would treat us this way."

4ronbkrgFew immigrants said that conditions were adequate, most described cold temperatures, too little food.

LONG-RUNNING LAWSUIT

The statements were taken by attorneys for plaintiffs in a case brought against the U.S. government in 1985 on behalf of 15-year-old Jenny L. Flores. A 1997 settlement in the lawsuit set standards for humane treatment of children in detention and ordered their prompt release in most cases.

This week, the plaintiffs filed papers alleging that the detention conditions described in the declarations violate the humane treatment standards set out in the settlement, including speedy release of children.

"We now see many in CBP custody for three to six days," up from two to three days in prior months, said Peter Schey, the lead attorney for plaintiffs in the Flores case.

Reuters was unable to speak directly to the migrants who gave declarations because they weren't fully identified in the filing, and most of them are still in detention.

CBP referred requests for comment on the migrant statements to the Department of Justice, which declined to comment. In the past, CBP has defended conditions in its facilities.

In a report filed in the Flores case last month, CBP juvenile coordinator Henry Moak Jr. said that the department makes extensive efforts "to ensure all minors in CBP custody are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors."

He said parents and children he interviewed had "received meals and snacks; had access to drinking water, functioning toilets, and functioning sinks; and were held in rooms that were maintained at an appropriate temperature."

He also noted, however, that CBP should ensure that food was not kept past its expiration date and that custodial data was consistently entered into records.

Moak referred requests for comment to CBP.

'ICE BOXES' AND 'DOG POUNDS'

Reports of harsh conditions in CBP facilities have surfaced repeatedly for years, including again recently when the government began separating children and parents. The new declarations are remarkable both for the number of detainee voices and the consistency of detail in what they report.

While a few immigrants said that conditions were adequate, most described cold temperatures, too little food, difficult separations from their children and crowded cells without enough sleeping mats. They said latrines were dirty and lacked privacy and that lights stayed on day and night.

James Tomsheck, who served as assistant commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection for internal affairs from 2006 to 2014, told Reuters that the facilities were designed for brief stays.

oejtjgm8Reports of harsh conditions in CBP facilities have surfaced repeatedly for years. (Reuters)

"There is no question that the amount of time persons are being held at these, what are designed to be temporary detention facilities, has become much longer than it was intended."

Detainees refer to some of the facilities as "hieleras," Spanish for "ice boxes" because they are so cold. Larger spaces with indoor fencing are referred to as "perreras" or "dog pounds."

Children in the facilities were often held in separate cells from their parents, according to the statements.

A woman named Leydi, held in Chula Vista, California, described watching young children trying to touch their parents through metal fences.

"The mothers tried to reach their children, and I saw children pressing up against the fence of the cage to try to reach out," she said. "But officials pulled the children away and yelled at their mothers."

John Sandweg, acting director of ICE from 2013 to 2014, said the problems stem from the fact that holding areas were designed to lock up adults for just a few hours while CBP processed paperwork.

"They're inappropriate, frankly, for children," he said.

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May Day riot in Paris: Masked protesters torch cars, police deploy tear gas

Police in Paris have used water cannons to break up a tumultuous rally. Amid May Day demonstrations, hooded individuals have been throwing smoke bombs and setting vehicles on fire in the French capital.

Live feeds from Paris showed chaotic scenes, as police attempt to disperse violent protesters while redirecting crowds of peaceful marchers to side streets. Loud bangs are heard in the background as smoke and tear gas billow down the streets.

Police pushed back against the rioters, peppering the crowd with tear gas grenades from behind riot shields and hitting the crowd with water cannon. Protesters lobbed firecrackers at the advancing force, as well as picking up and throwing back some of the gas canisters. Armored police vans and fire trucks are backed up advance.

Earlier, law enforcement tweeted there were around 1,200 “hooded and masked” individuals among the May Day demonstrators at the Pont d’Austerlitz bridge in central Paris.

The rioters have torched several vehicles and vandalized shop fronts, including reportedly throwing a petrol bomb through a McDonald’s window.

France marks Labor Day as President Emmanuel Macron finds himself in a protracted battle with unions and students over his reform plans. Railroad workers have been striking since mid-April, angry at plans to freeze salaries, cut over 120,000 jobs, and employ more private contractors.

Students have previously occupied several universities across France, protesting Macron’s move to reform the education system, including introducing new admissions criteria and ranking young people who apply to public universities.

Emmanuel Macron, who has remained unmoved by the protests and vowed to proceed with the reforms, is not in Paris to witness the unrest, having flown to Australia for a state visit.

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Two Killed In San Francisco Shooting Spree, Police Arrest A 61-Year-Old

San Francisco:  At least two people were killed and three others injured in a shooting spree in San Francisco, police said.

The shooting took place on Monday in Clearlake Oaks in Lake County, CBS San Francisco reported.

According to authorities, Clearlake resident 61-year-old Alan Ashmore was arrested on two counts of homicide as well as multiple other counts of assault with a firearm following the late Monday morning shooting spree.

Authorities were trying to determine a motive in the seemingly random shooting spree.

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