Dozens of bottles containing dangerous chemicals, including highly corrosive acids, were discovered on Thursday at a country park in Tsuen Wan, prompting Hong Kong police to investigate if the substances had been stored there by anti-government protesters.
Emergency personnel were called in when the bottles, which contained chemicals such as sulphuric and nitric acid, were found at a hillside near a barbecue site off Shing Mun Road in Shing Mun Country Park just after 11am.
"Initial investigation showed about 50 bottles were seized at the hillside, and some of the bottles contained sulphuric acid," one police source said.
The source said the case was being investigated by the crime unit from the police headquarters, a department that has been handling protest-related crimes during the social unrest that has roiled the city since June.
Personnel from the police tactical unit were also deployed to scout the area and firefighters were on standby at the site.
As of midday on Thursday, the area was still cordoned off by police.
Meanwhile, police said on their Facebook page on Wednesday night that they had seized about 10,000 petrol bombs from Chinese University, Polytechnic University, and other colleges and their surroundings, along with a large number of chemicals, offensive weapons and raw materials for explosives.
"Violence will not be condoned in any civilised society," police said in the post. "One should call a spade a spade. There's no room for grey areas. The police are making every effort to put an end to violence by enforcing the law."
After a 13-day siege of PolyU occupied by more than 1,000 protesters, police last Friday seized 4,296 petrol bombs, 671 bottles of chemicals and 622 pieces of weapons.
Some 810 people were arrested when leaving PolyU during the siege, while police took the details on a further 318 youngsters under the age of 18.
A source had earlier told the Post that about 20 types of chemicals were reported missing from PolyU in Hung Hom, including 2.5 litres of concentrated sulphuric acid; 1kg of sodium metal; a small amount of zinc cyanide; sodium arsenite; hydrochloric acid; and DDT.
Protesters also occupied Chinese University for five days earlier this month, during which they threw objects onto a nearby highway and railway tracks, and attacked police with petrol bombs and other weapons. Police returned with more than 1,000 rounds of tear gas during the clashes. The occupiers fled on November 15.
Chinese University is said to have lost about 80 litres of concentrated nitric acid; 17.5 litres of concentrated sulphuric acid; and 2.5 litres of hexane.
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