Enough petrol to make more than 100 firebombs, which were to be used to cause chaos at public events around new year, was found hidden on a Hong Kong hillside, police said on Tuesday.
The haul of six plastic jerry cans of petrol was discovered along with 51 empty bottles on a hillside off Shatin Pass Road near Lion Rock Country Park in Tsz Wan Shan, according to Chief Inspector Wong Yi-wai of Kowloon East regional crime unit.
He said police learned the site was being used to store the dangerous goods from suspects who were arrested on Tuesday morning in connection with violent acts during recent anti-government protests.
Wong said the amount seized was enough to produce more than 100 petrol bombs.
“Police have reasons to believe [the petrol bombs] would have been used at public events today or tomorrow and the purpose was to cause panic and chaos,” he said.
Sources told the Post on Monday that more than 6,000 police officers would be deployed to handle protest chaos over the new year.
In a video posted on the force’s Facebook page, police chief Chris Tang Ping-keung vowed to ramp up efforts to arrest people who broke the law.
Police appealed to the public, especially youngsters, not to be incited into making or storing petrol bombs or other such raw materials.
Wong said police treated petrol bombs as offensive weapons as well as explosives. “The only aim of making petrol bombs is to endanger life or property,” he said.
In Hong Kong, attempts to cause an explosion or making or keeping explosives with intent to endanger life or property carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail under the Crimes Ordinance.
Wong also said it was irresponsible to store the petrol in a place near a hiking path, posing a danger to hikers.
The chief inspector said police were still investigating how long the goods had been hidden there.
He did not disclose how many people were arrested in the operation on Tuesday morning.
Last month, police found more than 10,000 petrol bombs at several universities after protesters barricaded themselves on campuses and fought officers.
Since June, Hong Kong has been rocked by anti-government protests, sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition bill. So far, police have arrested more than 6,500 people for offences related to the protests. Of those arrested, about 2,600 were students.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Hong Kong police search for six people believed to have set fire outside Lai Chi Kok government offices after petrol bombs found at the scene
- Hong Kong protests: Chief Executive Carrie Lam vows to rebuild city and bear responsibilities in new year address