Bomb explodes in library toilet, suspicious package prompts scare at MTR station

Authorities address the media about a bomb that was detonated in a library bathroom in Lai Chi Kok last night. Screengrab via Facebook.
Authorities address the media about a bomb that was detonated in a library bathroom in Lai Chi Kok last night. Screengrab via Facebook.

The police confirmed that a homemade bomb exploded in a toilet at the Lai Chi Kok Public Library last night, the latest in a string of incendiary devices being set off around the city.

Nobody was injured in the blast, which took place in a disabled toilet cubicle at around 10:47pm, wrecking the toilet bowl and blackening nearby walls. The police’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team was called in to investigate the incident, but no arrests have been made so far.

It is at least the fourth such incident in the two weeks, with authorities linking the devices to public calls for authorities to fully seal Hong Kong’s border with the mainland to stem the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.

Officers are yet to determine whether all the cases are related, but they have made police more alert to suspicious objects that could be linked to potential attacks.

This morning, police bomb disposal experts were called to Tai Po Market railway station after a suspicious duct-taped object was found on the rail track, but the item turned out to merely be an empty shoebox.

Kwok Yat-leung, acting assistant Tai Po district commander, said the shoebox is believed to have been deliberately placed to appear to be a real bomb.

“After we set up to defuse the bomb, there was nothing inside the box,” he said.

East Rail services between the station and University station were suspended following the discovery of the box, and trains between Hung Hom and University, and Tai Wo and Sheung Shui were running at 10-minute intervals.

Three similar incidents occurred late last month. One bomb was found and defused near the Shenzhen Bay border checkpoint, one was detonated in a toilet at a hospital in Cheung Sha Wan, and another went off in a public toilet in Yau Ma Tei.

On Sunday, two more explosive devices were found on a train at Lo Wu station, which links a major border checkpoint to the rest of Hong Kong, suspending rail services for hours.

One of the devices was defused by officers at the scene, but the other partially detonated and caught fire.

Police have referred to the apparent campaign as “a big step towards terrorism.”

The government has so far resisted calls to fully close the border, but has closed all but three of the main ports of entry into the city from the mainland: the airport, the Shenzhen Bay bridge, and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. The city’s cruise ship terminal also remains open, but authorities maintain it is not a conventional entry point, and are restricting arrivals.

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