Hong Kong leader visits mosque struck by blue water-cannon dye

Hong Kong officials apologized to leaders of a mosque after riot police sprayed the building’s gate and some people nearby with a water cannon. (AP)
Updated 21 October 2019

Hong Kong leader visits mosque struck by blue water-cannon dye

  • The entrance to the Kowloon Mosque was sprayed by a water cannon truck on Sunday, causing anger among both local Muslims and protester
  • The mosque is a center of Hong Kong’s 300,000-strong Muslim community

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader and the city’s police chief visited a mosque on Monday that was struck with blue dye from a water cannon during the latest bout of violent protests.
The entrance to the Kowloon Mosque, the international hub’s largest, was sprayed by a water cannon truck on Sunday, causing anger among both local Muslims and protesters.
Police use the dye — often mixed with an irritant — as a way to identify protesters but it has frequently left streets and buildings daubed in a garish blue.
Video footage shot Sunday showed the truck pulling up outside the building during confrontations with protesters, pausing and then spraying around half a dozen journalists and bystanders who were gathered on the street outside.
The group, who did not appear to be protesters, was struck twice, with much of the bright blue jet painting the mosque’s entrance and steps.
Police released a statement on Sunday saying the mosque was hit by mistake but did not apologize.
On Monday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam and police chief Stephen Lo paid a brief visit to the mosque, surrounded by a phalanx of security guards.
They emerged some 20 minutes later without speaking to the media.
Mosque representatives told reporters that the two had apologized for the water cannon incident and that the apology had been accepted.
The representatives also thanked worshippers and Hong Kongers who flocked to clean the mosque soon after the incident.
The original Kowloon Mosque was built in the late nineteenth century to cater for Muslim soldiers from British-ruled India.
It was rebuilt in the early 1980s and remains a center of Hong Kong’s 300,000-strong Muslim community.
Lam’s office and the police did not respond to requests for comment on the visit.
A police source told AFP the commissioner did apologize and further details would be released later in the day.
Hong Kong was convulsed by another day of violence on Sunday as the city nears five months of seething pro-democracy protests.
Tens of thousands joined an unauthorized but peaceful afternoon rally which quickly descended into chaos as small groups of hardcore protesters threw petrol bombs and rocks at a police station, mainland China businesses and multiple subway station entrances.
Police responded with water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets in clashes that lasted well into the night.


Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party’s web services ahead of election

Updated 21 min 5 sec ago

Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party’s web services ahead of election

  • Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the election
  • The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, a NCSC spokesman said

LONDON: Hackers attacked Britain’s opposition Labour Party, bombarding its web services with malicious traffic in an attempt to force them offline just weeks ahead of a national election, party and security officials said on Tuesday,
“We have experienced a sophisticated and large-scale cyberattack on Labour digital platforms,” Labour said in a statement. “We took swift action and these attempts failed due to our robust security systems.
The party was confident data breach occurred, it said.
Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks or political messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the Dec. 12 election.
Moscow has repeatedly denied Western allegations of election interference and a person with knowledge of the matter said an initial investigation had found nothing to link the Labour Party attack to a foreign state.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Center, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency, said the attack was a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack — a technique used by hackers to take down websites by overwhelming them with malicious traffic.
“DDoS attacks are a common form of attack used by a very wide range of attackers. Mitigation techniques are available and worked in this case,” a NCSC spokesman said.
The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, he said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the attack was very serious but was successfully repelled by the party’s defense systems when the digital assault began on Monday.
“But if this is a sign of things to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all,” he said. “Because a cyberattack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about.”
A Labour spokesman said that while the attack had slowed down some campaign activity, they were restored on Tuesday.
The person with knowledge of the matter said any Labour Party web services currently offline were not directly connected to the attack.
Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12 in an election called by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to try to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament more than three years since the country voted to leave the European Union.
A report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has investigated Russian activity in British politics and reportedly includes charges of spying and interference in polls, including the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2017 national election.
The government, however, has declined to publish it before the upcoming election.