Attacker bites politician's ear, others slashed in Hong Kong

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People stand inside the lobby of China's Xinhua News Agency after it was damaged by protesters in Hong Kong, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Hong Kong riot police fired multiple rounds of tear gas and used a water cannon Saturday to break up a rally by thousands of masked protesters demanding meaningful autonomy after Beijing indicated it could tighten its grip on the Chinese territory. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

HONG KONG – A knife-wielding man slashed several people and bit off part of the ear of a pro-democracy politician in Hong Kong on Sunday, as riot police stormed several malls to thwart protesters who have been demanding government reforms for nearly five months.

The bloody attack erupted outside one of those shopping complexes, Cityplaza on Hong Kong Island. Local media said the attacker told his victims that Hong Kong belongs to China.

Television footage showed the man biting the ear of district councilor Andrew Chiu, who had tried to stop him from leaving after the stabbings. The attacker was then badly beaten up by a crowd before police arrived.

The government, condemning the attack, said five people were hospitalized including two in critical condition and appealed to people to stay rational and set aside their political differences. "They should abide by the law and not to resort to vigilantism," a government spokesman said in a statement.

The attack came late Sunday, a day in which protesters had been urged online to gather at seven locations, including malls, to sustain a push for political reform.

Most of the rallies didn't pan out as scores of riot police took positions, searching and arresting people, dispersing crowds and blocking access to a park next to the office of the city's leader, Carrie Lam.

Some small pockets of hardcore demonstrators were undeterred.

As protesters chanted slogans at the New Town Plaza shopping mall in Sha Tin, police said they moved in after some "masked rioters" with fire extinguishers vandalized turnstiles and smashed windows at the subway station linked to the mall.