Andy Chan’s independence party — the Hong Kong National Party — was outlawed last year on the grounds of national security. File photo/ AFP
The founder of a banned Hong Kong independence party has been arrested in a raid where offensive weapons and explosives were found, a senior police source told AFP on Friday, as the city reels from weeks of anti-government protests.
In a statement, police said eight people —seven men and one woman — were arrested at an industrial building on Thursday evening in the district of Sha Tin on charges of possession of an offensive weapon and possession of explosives without a licence.
The statement did not identify the individuals arrested. But a senior police source told AFP that independence activist Andy Chan was among those detained.
“Andy Chan was arrested inside a premise with (a) gasoline bomb seized,” the source said, asking not to be identified.
Chan’s independence party — the Hong Kong National Party — was outlawed last year on the grounds it posed a national security threat, the first such ban since 1997.
His party contained only a few dozen members but its formation infuriated Beijing, which sees calls for independence as an absolute red line.
The banning of his party — and the expulsion of a Financial Times journalist who chaired a talk with Chan at the city’s press club before the party was outlawed —were held up as two examples of sliding freedoms in Hong Kong as Beijing clamps down on dissent.
The South China Morning Post reported that a crowd of protesters gathered outside Sha Tin police station overnight, shouting slogans and throwing eggs at the building.
Semi-autonomous Hong Kong has endured two months of protests that began with a government bid to introduce a law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.
The demonstrations evolved into a movement for deeper democratic reforms and an end to eroding freedoms, in the most significant challenge to Beijing’s rule since the city’s handover from Britain in 1997.
Police arrested six people during a demonstration in one of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist areas on Sunday, where thousands of protesters sought to raise awareness among mainland Chinese visitors
Hong Kong police said on Monday they arrested 36 people, the youngest aged 12, after violence during anti-government demonstrations escalated as protesters hurled Molotov cocktails
Police also searched a village house in a northern neighbourhood where they found laboratory equipment they suspect could be used for producing explosives. The arrested men were aged 21-29, a senior officer said late on Tuesday.
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