Hong Kong train 'firebomb' injures 17; terror angle ruled out

The police say the 60-year-old man confessed that he had set fire to himself due to some personal reason.

Hong Kong subway firebomb attack injures at least 17; police arrest suspect
A man, whom police believe to have set himself on fire, is seen on the ground inside a subway station in Hong Kong. Reuters

At least 17 people were injured after a petrol bomb ripped through a train carriage on a packed MTR train at Tsim Sha Tsui station, one of Hong Kong's busiest subway stations. The police arrested a 60-year-old suspect who set off the firebomb on Friday evening on the subway train. Two of the injured are in critical condition.

The local media reported that the fire broke out in the front carriage of a train at around 7 pm (local time) when the train had been halfway between Admiralty and Tsim Sha Tsui stations. District Police Commander Kwok Pak-chung said the 60-year-old man surnamed Cheung, who was seriously injured in the incident, confessed that he had set fire to himself, while the train was headed to the busy Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district.

"While he was on the way to the hospital he mentioned some personal reasons, but he was incoherent. What he said did not make much sense," Kwok told Reuters Video footage showed a man lying on the platform with his clothes ablaze as bystanders tried to help him. A fire alarm was also sounded in the station and a man could be heard shouting: "Let's go, let's go, let's go."

According to the authorities, the victims suffered serious burns and had inhaled harmful fumes. "Suddenly a lot of thick white smoke swarmed over us. People started covering their noses and mouths. But people were calm. Nobody screamed," Nigel Ngai, a 30-year-old passenger said. He added that the smoke smelled like burned plastic.

The Tsim Sha Tsui station, which services a popular shopping and nightlife district, was evacuated following the incident with trains skipping the station on Friday night. However, it was re-opened Saturday morning.

Yau Tsim police commander Frances Li said the incident is believed to be an isolated event and has no link to terror. Investigations are continuing the probe to find out all the details of the incident.

Hong Kong leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, said in a statement that he was "highly concerned" about the incident. He has asked the relevant departments to investigate the matter.