The terrorism arrests come a week after a man stabbed a police officer before killing himself. The nine men are the latest targets of Hong Kong’s national security laws.
Police in Hong Kong arrested nine people, including six students, on Tuesday on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities.
The arrests came after police uncovered an alleged attempt to manufacture explosives and plant bombs across the city.
The arrests come at a time of political division in Hong Kong, two years after months of pro-democracy protests rocked the financial capital.
Last week, a man stabbed a police officer and then killed himself in what authorities described as a “lone wolf” attack.
Who are the suspects?
Police said the five men and four women arrested ranged in age from 15 to 39.
In addition to the students, the group included a university administrator, a high school teacher and an unemployed man.
Police said the nine men belonged to a pro-independence group called Return to Valor. They had rented a room in a hostel in the city Centre for about a month.
“There was a good split among the detainees,” said Steve Lee, a senior superintendent with the Hong Kong Police National Security Division.
“Some of them brought the money with them. Some were scientists, people who made the bombs in the room.”
“One of them was responsible for obtaining the chemicals and other materials needed for the plan, while another small group used chemical equipment to make the bombs,” he told reporters.” There was also a reconnaissance team and an operations team that planted the bombs.”
What did the police find?
Authorities said they found the tools and raw materials to make the bombs, which were seized.
The group allegedly tried to make the explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP) in the dorm room, which police said was a bomb-making lab.
TATP has used in terrorist attacks around the world, including in Israel and London.
Police said the suspects planned to use the TATP to blow up courthouses and public infrastructure, such as the Cross Harbour Tunnel and railways, as well as place it in public bins.
The motive, they said, was to “cause maximum damage to the society”.
Police also said they found operations manuals and about 80,000 Hong Kong dollars ($10,300 or 8,700 euros) in cash, suggesting the group planned to flee the city after carrying out the attack.
Officials froze bank accounts worth 600,000 Hong Kong dollars related to the suspected terrorist activities.