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Hong Kong protests

Boy hit by bullet in Hong Kong as protesters defy mask ban

Flash mobs flow across city, while rail system shuts and officer suffers burns

A fire set by protesters burns in the Wong Tai Sin district of Hong Kong on Oct. 4, after Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced emergency laws that would include banning face masks at protests.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- Protesters defied Hong Kong's new ban on masks as they confronted police early Saturday, amid a night of chaos in the city that began hours after the local government announced emergency powers on Friday.

Television images showed violent confrontations between protesters and police, who fired tear gas against the crowds. Vandalism left widespread damage late Friday, including fires on the city's streets.

During a clash in the New Territories, an officer opened fire with live rounds.

A 14-year-old boy hit in the leg was conscious upon arriving at the hospital, according to local media.

Hard-line demonstrators continued to damage properties and businesses around Hong Kong that have connections to mainland China or perceived leanings toward Beijing.

Flash mobs appeared across the city, playing a cat-and-mouse game with riot police. As officers would close in, large groups of protesters retreated to new areas in an effort to stay one step ahead. Those scenes played out through the night.

In one video posted online, a man believed to be a plainclothes officer was attacked by protesters and a petrol bomb landed near him, briefly setting his clothes on fire.

Hong Kong police said in a statement that the officer dropped his pistol and a magazine. A protester tried to grab the gun before being stopped by the man. Another petrol bomb was thrown at the officer, setting his feet ablaze, and he was unable to retrieve the ammunition, the statement said.

Meanwhile, the rail operator, MTR, closed the entire system after protesters set fires at stations. Television images showed sprinkler systems flooding the entrances to stations.

Graffiti sprayed on public street barriers included the warning, "If we burn, you burn with us."

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, saying that public order was at "a very dangerous state," invoked the colonial-era Emergency Regulations Ordinance earlier Friday. The law's authority is being used for the first time since 1967, and the mask ban under the ordinance took effect at midnight Friday.

Protesters use the masks to protect themselves from tear gas and to shield their identities.

A Hong Kong High Court judge declined to grant a temporary suspension of the mask ban, sought by two activists. The pair also wanted a judicial review of the government decision to invoke emergency laws, public broadcaster RTHK said.

Protesters defied the ban early Saturday in early morning confrontations with police.

The anti-government demonstrations began nearly four months ago to protest a controversial extradition bill -- viewed by opponents as a threat to Hong Kong's "one country, two systems" legal framework -- that has since been shelved by the government.

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