Five suspected triad members have been arrested over an attack on two senior executives of a planned local newspaper last month.
The five, all men aged between 25 and 38, are thought to be members of the Wo Shing Wo tried, a police source said. They were believed to have acted as "attackers and lookouts" in the March 19 assault on Lei Iun-han, 46, director of the Hong Kong Morning News Media Group, and Lam Kin-ming, 54, the paper's news controller.
The motive for the attack remained unclear, the source said, but: "We believe they received an order to carry out the attack."
The five, all Hongkongers, were picked up in a series of raids on Thursday and yesterday. A policeman was injured in a struggle with two suspects in Tsuen Wan on Thursday. The men were last night being detained at the Kowloon City headquarters of the Kowloon West crime unit. No charges had been brought.
The assault in Tsim Sha Tsui stoked concerns about press freedom in the city, as it came weeks after former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau Chun-to was critically injured in a chopper attack which police said had all the hallmarks of a triad hit.
The pair were attacked by three men wielding metal bars, who then fled in a car driven by a fourth man.
The car was found abandoned on a hillside in Wong Tai Sin the next day, along with pipes, gloves and masks.
The car's owner and a friend were arrested that day and released on bail. Another police source said yesterday that investigations so far suggested the pair were not involved in the attack.
The attack was condemned by Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok and prompted condemnation from the Hong Kong Morning News Media Group and the Journalists Association.
Plans for the new paper, which would join a crowded newspaper market, were announced in February by a group including former Oriental Daily News editor Wong Yeung-ng.