Hong Kong police have arrested five men in relation to a case of arson at Kowloon Tong MTR station last October 12.
Petrol bombs were thrown into exit G1 at around 2:30pm damaging two turnstiles, though there were no protests in the area at the time. A march was being held at around the same time in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Crime (Operations) Kowloon West Superintendent Chan Tsz-leung told reporters on Wednesday that firefighters found the case to be suspicious and transferred it to the police.
Chan said that, after reviewing a large batch of security camera footage, police found that two masked men had thrown Molotov cocktails and fled in two vehicles.
Officers arrested five local men between 26 and 40 years old on Tuesday on suspicion of conspiracy to arson, according to Chan.
They included a staff member of a engineering company, a staff member of a technology company, a delivery worker, among others. None of the arrested men were students and none have triad backgrounds.
Chan said some of the five were friends, and some only met recently via social media. Some participated in recent protests, according to the police.
Chan said police strongly condemned acts of arson against MTR stations, banks, shops and police stations.
“Such acts will not only damage property and belongings. They may cause casualties,” he said.
He added that arson is a serious crime and offenders could be sentenced to life in prison: “We are confident and capable of conducting thorough investigations into serious cases.”
Chan said that, after police searched the home of a 26-year-old man, they found eight cans of petrol, five petrol bombs, three cans of thinners, two air guns, one pepper spray canister, three hammers, five crowbars, two military knives, seven gas masks, as well as material that police suspected could be used to make flammable items, including iron powder, sugar and sulphur.
The 26-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of possessing offensive weapons, possession of imitation arms, as well as possession of an instrument fit for an unlawful purpose, Chan said.
Large-scale protests have been ongoing for over six months. Initially against a now-withdrawn extradition bill, the demonstrations have evolved into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police action, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment.