On Tuesday, Hong Kong police arrested nine individuals suspected of planning a massive bombing campaign in resistance to the Chinese government, according to ABC News.
Out of the nine suspects, six of them were students in secondary school. They were arrested under the provisions of a strict law that was enacted by the Chinese government last year, which led to numerous protests in the former British colony of Hong Kong. The law had previously been used to arrest many activists during the widespread protests that first started in 2019, but appeared to dissipate after the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Police spokesmen said that the group was planning to craft the explosives out of triperoxide, also known as TATP, in a crude laboratory that had been set up in a hostel. The group had allegedly designated several targets, including courthouses, tunnels, and trash cans on the street, and had planned to flee Hong Kong after detonating the explosives.
The oldest of the arrested suspects was 39, while the youngest was just 15 years old. At a press conference announcing the arrests, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said that “they should not be wrongly influenced by the idea that…breaking the law is in order if you’re trying to achieve a certain cause. They should not be influenced into thinking that they can find excuses to inflict violence.”
During the arrests, Hong Kong authorities seized many of the various ingredients used in the making of TATP, as well as operating manuals and roughly 80,000 Hong Kong dollars, worth about $10,000 American dollars. They subsequently froze around 600,000 Hong Kong dollars worth of assets tied to the suspects, worth approximately $77,000.
The alleged plot only marks the latest unrest in the city of Hong Kong, where protests garnered international attention prior to the pandemic, with widespread condemnation of the Chinese government for the excessively harsh treatment of peaceful protesters. The primary goal of the protest movement was to implement a more democratic government in Hong Kong, along with the relaxing of restrictions on individual freedoms.