Hong Kong bomb disposal officers safely defused a homemade pipe bomb in a subdivided flat in Mong Kok on Tuesday night. Three men were arrest in connection with the case.
Two of the suspects, tertiary students aged 21 and 22, were arrested in Mong Kok and police believe they have links to a radical anti-government protest group.
The third man, a 29-year-old electrician, was detained in Sheung Shui in what police called a makeshift laboratory where bombs were being made.
“The pipe bomb was very powerful and a small explosion occurred while it was being defused. The shrapnel punched a hole in one of the lifts in the flat,” Senior Superintendent Chan Tin-chu said at a briefing at the scene.
He said the bomb was ready to be used and powerful enough to kill if it had been thrown into a car.
Police said they stopped three men as they were leaving the Lee Man Building on Tung Choi Street on Tuesday afternoon. Officers brought them back to the flat and found “protest-related materials” and the pipe bomb.
The police’s explosive ordnance disposal unit arrived at around 10.30pm and evacuated nearby residents. Chan said they found about 40 grams of explosives inside the bomb but it was still unclear what the substance was, or if it was linked to previous cases. The explosives were stuffed inside an eight-inch water pipe.
Police also found items such as gas masks, Guy Fawkes masks, lighter fuel, a large bottle of rubbing alcohol, empty glass bottles, two bulletproof vests and a small amount of marijuana in the flat.
The three men, who police believe had taken part in a march on New Year’s Day, were arrested on charges of illegal assembly, as well as manufacturing explosives, possession of explosives, possession of weapons and possession of drugs.
There have been a series of bomb threats in recent months, which police have said were linked to the ongoing anti-government protests that have rocked the city since June.