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Hong Kong metro system to remain shut as city reels from night of violent…

by ace

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong's rail operator said the entire subway system would remain closed on Saturday in an unprecedented move as the city braced for further protests after a night of chaos when police killed a teenager and protesters. pro-democracy burned down companies and subway stations.

Violent protests erupted in the hours of the China-ruled city after its troubled leader Carrie Lam invoked the colonial-era emergency powers last used more than 50 years ago.

For four months, the city was plagued by increasingly violent protests, which began in opposition to a bill introduced in April that would allow extradition to mainland China but enter a broader democracy movement.

The Beijing-backed leader said the ban on masks that came into effect on Saturday was ordered under emergency laws that allow authorities to "make any regulations" in the public interest.

But the action infuriated the protesters, who took to the streets as darkness fell to vent their anger. They set fire, threw petrol bombs at police and burned the Chinese national flag in a direct challenge to the Beijing authorities.

Police said a police officer in Yuen Long, a district in the New Territories, who suffered fierce clashes in July, fired a shot in self-defense after a protester threw a gas pump at him, setting him ablaze.

Local media reported that a 14-year-old boy was shot and the city's Hospital Authority said a 14-year-old boy was in serious condition without providing further details.

Rail operator MTR Corp has suspended the entire network, leaving people trapped throughout the city, many forced to return home.

In a statement, he said protesters set fire to several stations, including an empty train, and injured two officials.

"As we are no longer in a position to provide safe and reliable service to passengers, the Corporation had no choice but to decide to suspend service for its entire network, including Heavy Rail, Light Rail and MTR buses." said in a statement Saturday morning.

The airport express, the city's main link to the airport, would also remain closed, while more than a dozen malls, which closed their doors on Friday in anticipation of the violence, said they would not reopen either.

The story goes on

About 100 protesters surrounded a Bank of China (HK) branch in Causeway Bay's upscale business district, while across the harbor in Kowloon district, protesters crushed the front of a glass shop of a China Life branch.

Police fired volleys of tear gas to disperse protesters in flash point districts across the territory, including Causeway Bay, Sha Tin and Wong Tai Sin, underscoring the challenges faced by the authorities as the protests show no sign of dropping out.

Other demonstrations are planned for the weekend, including a Saturday march at the Salisbury Garden in Kowloon. (Writing by Poppy Elena McPherson; Daniel Wallis Edition)

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