Hong Kong police have arrested a secondary school student and two men for allegedly possessing imitation firearms, as officers seized what they described as anti-government flags and badges at the suspects’ residences.

Materials seized by the police in relation to three imitation firearms cases on June 27, 2022. Photo: Hong Kong Police Force, via Facebook.

Police on Monday raided the homes of three men aged between 17 and 44 after they were suspected of owning imitation firearms. During the operations, officers took away a total of 38 airguns – some suspected to have been modified – magazines, extendable batons, gas masks and filters.

Other evidence seized included flags that featured the protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” which a local court declared as secessionist last July, as well as badges bearing the words “Hong Kong Independence Armed Force.”

Materials seized by the police in relation to three imitation firearms cases on June 27, 2022. Photo: Hong Kong Police Force, via Facebook.

The 17-year-old student was detained after police saw someone selling gas masks and filters online, New Territories South regional crime unit chief inspector Chan Ka-ying told the press on Monday. Separately, a 23-year-old man was arrested in Tin Shui Wai, while the other suspect was take away in Sham Shui Po.

“The content [of the flags] are anti-government. We will further investigate the purpose of the arrested person, why they stored such items at home and whether they had any unlawful purposed [or] any planned illegal activities in the future,” Chan said.

Senior superintendent Ho Chun-tung of the Organised Crime Bureau there was no evidence to suggest that three cases were related. He said officers would investigate whether anyone had “manipulated” young people into doing unlawful acts.

Materials seized by the police in relation to three imitation firearms cases on June 27, 2022. Photo: Hong Kong Police Force, via Facebook.

Ho called on the public to report suspicious activity to the police through the Counter-terrorism Reporting Hotline launched earlier this month. He said more than 1,600 tips had been received and officers were analysing the intelligence.

Asked whether the three arrests made on Monday were based on tips from the hotline, the senior superintendent said police could not disclose further details in order to protect their sources of information.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.