A 16-year-old schoolboy and his parents were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of sending a threatening letter to the Hong Kong Police Force claiming home-made bombs targeting officers had been planted across the city.
A police source said officers were investigating if the suspects were linked to previous bomb cases, including an improvised explosive device (IED) that was packed inside an envelope addressed to police chief Chris Tang Ping-keung and sent to his office in Wan Chai on April 20.
The device was partially functional and already beginning to emit smoke when staff attempted to open the envelope. It was a “victim-operated” device designed to detonate by whoever opened the parcel. No message was found with the envelope, and no one was injured.
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Three days later, police received an anonymous letter at police headquarters in Wan Chai. The source said the letter claimed home-made bombs had been planted in different districts with police as their intended targets.
After a three-month investigation, police raided a Cheung Sha Wan flat on Wednesday morning and arrested a family of three, aged 16 to 50. The boy is a Form Five student and his parents are a kitchen worker and a hawker.
Superintendent Chan Kong-ming of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau said the three were arrested for sending a letter threatening to murder – an offence that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.
“We will follow all lines of inquiry, in particular, if they are connected to any bomb cases,” he said, adding that no explosives or IED materials were seized in the operation.
He said police were also investigating if the letter had been intended as a prank, possibly inspired by unfounded reports on social media.
As of Thursday afternoon, the three suspects were being held for questioning and none had been charged.
Earlier in April, letters containing white powder of an unknown nature were sent to the police sports and recreation club in Mong Kok and also to police headquarters, with the latter accompanied by an intimidating message.
During the anti-government protests of the past 12 months, there were “extremely violent groups” using genuine firearms and explosives intended to kill police officers or force the government to accede to their demands, according to the force.
Police arrested 83 people in connection with 15 explosives and five firearms cases arising from the protests, which kicked off over the now-withdrawn extradition bill.
In December, two remote-controlled bombs connected to mobile phones, each packed with 5kg of high-grade explosives and nails, were found hidden inside two rubbish bags under a building at Wah Yan College in Wan Chai.
In January, a palm-sized device was discovered in a rubbish bin at the Shenzhen Bay Control Point, just 12 hours after a public toilet in West Kowloon was set ablaze by a suspected home-made bomb.
A bomb was found in a toilet at Caritas Medical Centre in Cheung Sha Wan the same month.
In early March, police seized more than two tonnes of explosives and chemicals, arresting 17 people accused of plotting attacks on officers.
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