News in Hong Kong

Police escort suspect during reconstruction 16 June 2015

Occupy gone sour? 'Bomb plot' in Hong Kong

By Juliana Liu Hong Kong correspondent, BBC News

Officers escort a bomb suspect during a crime reconstruction this week

The last time the spectre of bombs exploding on the streets hung over Hong Kong, the city was still a British colony.

In 1967, a labour dispute escalated into protests led by Maoist groups that eventually resulted in 51 deaths and thousands injured.

Some of the deaths were caused by homemade explosives, called 'pineapples' in Cantonese vernacular.

But over the past 50 years, despite major upheavals, Hong Kong has remained an uncommonly safe city, home to people holding diverse political views.

So, the news that police had arrested at least 10 people on suspicion of conspiracy to make bombs, ahead of a key vote at the Legislative Council, has shocked and divided the general public.

The authorities have declined to publicly make a direct link between the suspects and the presentation of the government's political reform package on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands protested for several weeks in 2014

They said only that at least one suspect was a member of a 'local radical organisation' and that they were investigating all leads.

But privately they have told some journalists that the suspects belonged to a group calling itself the National Independent Party.

Almost nothing is known about the purported group, but its name suggests one of its goals could be to win independence for Hong Kong from China.

That is an extreme position on the spectrum of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.

'Compared to al-Qaeda'

Robert Chow, a well-known pro-Beijing figure, has pointed the finger at the pro-democracy movement's more mainstream leaders.

"Two years ago, somebody suggested we should occupy Central with peace and love. And now things have degenerated into people making bombs, " he said.

"Something is seriously wrong. I think the leadership have got to ask, what have they done? They [the suspects] were there supporting the Umbrella movement. Let's not play it down. In other countries, people would be comparing them to al-Qaeda and Islamic State."

But Albert Ho, a veteran democracy campaigner and lawmaker, said Mr Chow's comments were illogical and nonsensical.

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