Hong Kong transport system shuts down

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Most of Hong Kong’s metro system remains shut after a day which saw stations and businesses attacked in violent anti government protests.

Only the Airport Express remained open as protesters began fresh demonstrations in the autonomous Chinese territory.

Chief executive Carrie Lam has defended her decision to invoke emergency powers in order to restore order.

Hong Kong had been through a “very dark night” of “extreme violence”, she said.

Unrest intensified on Friday after a young demonstrator was shot in the leg by a police officer.

Protesters have also called on people to defy a ban on face masks announced by Ms Lam.

Unrest in the former British colony started in June, sparked by proposals to extradite suspected criminals to mainland China.

The extradition bill was subsequently cancelled but protests have widened into pro-democracy and anti-police demonstrations.

Saturday

MTR Mass Transit Railway, the rail operator, said it was unable to resume normal services as repairs were still being made at damaged stations. A limited bus service would be provided.

Supermarkets and banks were also closed, reeling from Friday’s chaos when rioters targeted MTR stations and, reportedly, businesses with links to mainland China.

“The radical behaviour of rioters took Hong Kong through a very dark night, leaving society today half-paralysed,” Ms Lam said in a pre-recorded video statement.

“The extreme violence clearly illustrated that Hong Kong’s public safety is widely endangered. That’s the concrete reason that we had to invoke emergency law yesterday to introduce the anti-mask law.”

“We cannot allow rioters any more to destroy our treasured Hong Kong,” she added.

Hundreds of protesters, many of them wearing masks, marched through the Causeway Bay shopping district on Saturday.

“We’re not sure what is going to happen later but we felt we had to get out and show our basic right to wear a mask,” Sue, 22 said from behind her black mask and dark glasses.

“The government needs to learn it can’t squeeze Hong Kong people like this.”

A French resident, who gave his first name Marko, said the face mask ban was “adding oil to the fire”.

“But I think the people who destroyed the stations are extremists,” he said.

Olusola Akintonde