Hong Kong police on Monday gave their account of how they went after protesters who had committed illegal acts at Prince Edward MTR station over the weekend, as the city’s security chief mounted a robust defence of officers’ actions. “They [police] remain Asia’s finest despite the danger and difficulties they face,” Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said. “They discharge their statutory duties with courage and commitment.” His resolute backing followed a public outcry over action taken by members of the Special Tactical Squad, known as Raptors. Protesters and their supporters accused police of behaving like gangsters and indiscriminately beating commuters, but the force has adamantly maintained officers went after radicals who had changed their clothes after trashing the station and brawling with other passengers. Others accused police of allegedly going after innocent people in the wrong train. Video clips widely circulated online at first only showed police rushing onto a train and using batons to beat two men and two women, some in masks, who were crying and cowering on the ground. Another officer pepper sprayed them as police left without making an arrest. But as further footage has emerged, Lee called on the public not to pass judgment based on snapshots. “We must take all the circumstances into consideration,” he said, adding that compared with overseas law enforcement agencies, Hong Kong police were exercising strong restraint and doing the right thing. “They are trying to reduce the injuries and harm to everyone. So this is the background we must take into consideration before we give a fair assessment of … how Hong Kong police are upholding the law.” After vandalising Mong Kok station on Saturday night, a group of black-clad masked protesters hopped onto a northbound Kwun Tong line train and argued with passengers, according to police. The protesters left the train at Prince Edward station and a war of words broke out through the open doors before escalating after liquid, umbrellas and water bottles were thrown at those still on board. An elderly man in a blue shirt pulled out a hammer and some protesters rushed him, resulting in more scuffles. As protesters again left the train, a fire extinguisher was set off into the carriage. Masked radicals wreak havoc on Hong Kong airport, trash railway station This train then departed and protesters used umbrellas as a screen to change their clothes, before crossing the platform and boarding a Central-bound train. Before this train left, the Raptors arrived shortly before 11pm. Protesters confronted the elite force with umbrellas and hard objects while police fought back with pepper spray and batons. After the Raptors left the train, it was stopped at Yau Ma Tei station and all passengers were asked to leave. Police intercepted and arrested seven people and seized two bags of slingshots and metal balls on the platform. The suspects included the pair seen crying and hugging after the Raptors entered the train at Prince Edward MTR station. It was understood the man was a university student and the woman he hugged was a nurse. The seven were among a total of 63 people arrested for possession of offensive weapons, criminal damage and unlawful assembly in relation to the Prince Edward MTR station incident. At a press briefing on Sunday, acting senior superintendent Tsui Shuk-yee of Kowloon West regional crime unit failed to say whether the suspects included the hammer-wielding man. She said investigation was continuing. Li Kwai-wah, senior superintendent from the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau, confirmed the pair’s arrest at Yau Ma Tei. “They were involved in illegal activities at Prince Edward MTR,” Li said. “We did not arrest them on the spot but … I hope you don’t jump to a conclusion by saying they are innocent civilians. They were involved in crimes.” The MTR Corporation confirmed it had called in police and taken the decision to close the station. The rail giant’s operations director Adi Lau Tin-shing said: “We needed police assistance to maintain the safe operation of our railway. Whenever there are large-scale clashes we need police to take action,” he said.