Chief Superintendent Tse Chun-chung

The police have defended their use of 35 canisters of tear gas and a rubber bullet to clear protesters who were burning paper to mark the Hungry Ghost Festival outside Sham Shui Po police station last night.

Speaking at the police’s daily press conference, Chief Superintendent Tse Chun-chung said protesters also pointed lasers at the station and shot marbles at police with slings, although no officers had been injured.

“We are aware that some members of the public are concerned about the use of tear gas in residential areas,” he said. “I hope they understand that the police never wish to use tear gas or deploy any kind of force. Our force is always used in response to the violence of the protesters.”

Some residents said the deployment of tear gas was unnecessary in a busy, tightly-packed area. But Tse said the force used was minimal.

The force also said that, so far, 748 people had been arrested in the protests since June 9 and over 170 officers had been injured. One officer is still seeking treatment in hospital.