At least four people were injured by a blade-wielding man who rampaged through a mall in Hong Kong while riot police stormed shopping centres in a move to block protesters from staging rallies.
The bloody attack took place amid a day of chaos in Hong Kong with an elected local councillor having part of his left ear bitten off.
Pro-democracy activists called a spate of flash mobs in shopping centres in a bid to keep up the momentum of the protest movement that has swept the city with violent clashes for five months.
The actions came after a day of running battles at the weekend, and riot police stormed several malls in an attempt to stop the rallies from taking place. Officers stationed at planned protest sites blocked certain areas, dispersed crowds and made arrests.
Nonetheless, protesters succeeded in gaining access to shopping centres in several neighbourhoods, forming human chains, chanting slogans and blocking entrances to prevent police officers from entering.
Although the protests were less violent than the previous day's, they ended in bloodshed when a man charged into a crowd that had gathered at the Cityplaza mall in the middle-class neighbourhood of Tai Koo Shing.
Survivors were seen lying in pools of blood and surrounded by people holding tissues and gauze on their wounds in an effort to staunch the bleeding.
Footage circulating online showed that the attacker, thought to be wielding a knife, had been subdued by angry onlookers. He was said to have argued with others over political issues before the incident.
Andrew Chiu, a pro-democracy councillor, lost part of his ear in an attack caught on television. Chiu had tried to stop the man from leaving after the stabbings. The attacker was then badly beaten up by a crowd, before police arrived.
Police said in a statement that they stormed into the shopping centres after activists started vandalising interiors and smashing windows. They said they were still confirming the total number of people injured.
Police arrested at least 200 people the previous night when another set of protests disrupted the city.
The weekend's clashes were the latest bout of violence in Hong Kong's worst political crisis since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997. Protests began in early June against an extradition bill that would have sent suspects to face trial in mainland China, where Communist Party influence in the court system results in a 99.9 per cent conviction rate.
City leaders finally withdrew the plan last month, but activists have continued to demonstrate against what they describe as police brutality and overall frustration at a government they feel has refused to listen to them.
The protesters' demands have expanded to include the resignation of Carrie Lam, the city's chief executive, the establishment of an independent inquiry into police handling of the demonstrations, an amnesty for arrested protesters, and direct leadership elections.
Lam was on an official visit to mainland China yesterday, where she is scheduled to meet this week with top Communist Party leaders.
Five months of demonstrations have dramatically disrupted day-to-day life in Hong Kong, with activists growing increasingly radical and police escalating their tactics in response.
- additional reporting AP