President orders army onto streets of capital city
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — President Lenín Moreno ordered the army onto the streets of Ecuador’s capital Saturday after a week and a half of protests over fuel prices devolved into violent incidents, with masked protesters attacking a television station, newspaper and the national auditor’s office.
Moreno said the military-enforced curfew would begin at 3 p.m. local time in response to violence in areas previously untouched by the protests. Around 1 p.m., masked protesters broke into the national auditor’s office and set it ablaze, sending black smoke billowing across the central Quito park and cultural complex that have been the epicenter of the protests.
About two hours later, a group of several dozen masked men swarmed the offices of the private Teleamazonas television station in northern Quito, set fires on the grounds and tried to break into the building where about 20 employees were trapped.
“They’re trying to enter the station, trying to break down the doors, we’re asking for help but the police aren’t coming,” one employee told The Associated Press by telephone on condition of anonymity because he was afraid of retaliation.
A journalist with the newspaper El Comercio told the AP that the paper’s offices in southern Quito were also under attack. The building’s security guards were seized and tied up and attackers were trying to break into offices where journalists were hiding, the journalist said, also under condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
Moreno appeared on national television alongside his vice president and defense minister to announce that he was ordering people indoors and the army onto the streets.
He blamed the violence on drug traffickers, organized crime and followers of former President Rafael Correa, who has denied allegations he is trying to topple Moreno’s government.
Moreno served Correa as vice president before he become president and the two men went through a bitter split as Moreno pushed to curb public debt amassed on Correa’s watch.
Tokyo area shuts down as typhoon makes landfall
TOKYO (AP) — A heavy downpour and strong winds pounded Tokyo and surrounding areas on Saturday as a powerful typhoon forecast to be Japan’s worst in six decades made landfall and passed over the capital, where streets, nearby beaches and train stations were long deserted.
Store shelves were bare after people stocked up on water and food ahead of Typhoon Hagibis. The Japan Meteorological Agency warned of dangerously heavy rainfall in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures, including Gunma, Saitama and Kanagawa, and later expanded the area to include Fukushima and Miyagi to the north. A coastal earthquake also rattled the area.
“Be ready for rainfall of the kind that you have never experienced,” said meteorological agency official Yasushi Kajihara, adding that areas usually safe from disasters may prove vulnerable.
“Take all measures necessary to save your life,” he said.
Kajihara said people who live near rivers should take shelter on the second floor or higher of any sturdy building if an officially designated evacuation center wasn’t easily accessible.
Hagibis, which means “speed” in Filipino, was advancing north-northwestward with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, according to the meteorological agency. It was traveling northward at a speed of 25 mph.
It reached Kawasaki, a western part of greater Tokyo, late Saturday and headed to Tsukuba city to the north about an hour later, before it was expected to swerve toward the sea, the agency said.
The storm brought heavy rainfall in wide areas of Japan all day ahead of its landfall, including in Shizuoka and Mie prefectures, southwest of Tokyo, as well as Chiba to the north, which saw power outages and damaged homes in a typhoon last month.
Under gloomy skies, a tornado ripped through Chiba on Saturday, overturning a car in the city of Ichihara and killing a man inside the vehicle, city official Tatsuya Sakamaki said. Five people were injured when the tornado ripped through a house. Their injuries were not life-threatening, Sakamaki said.
All trust gone between police and protesters
HONG KONG (AP) — As a police van sped past them, the 90-year-old woman and her 60-year-old daughter raised their fists, pointed their thumbs very deliberately down and yelled, “Triads!”
That silver-haired women in Hong Kong no longer think twice about openly accusing officers of being in cahoots with mafia gangs shows how public trust in the city’s 30,000-strong police force, once considered among the finest in Asia, has been catastrophically damaged in the storm of protest gripping the international business hub.
In trying to end the anti-government demonstrations, which broke out in multiple locations again on Saturday and are now in their fifth month, one of the most pressing problems to solve for Hong Kong leaders will be dispelling the now widespread public scorn for police officers. Protest graffiti likening officers to dogs and worse is all over the city, and protesters Saturday chanted for the force to be disbanded.
Overall, Saturday’s rallies were lower-key and more peaceful than other far larger and more violent protests that have rocked the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. Riot police deployed but stayed far behind the day’s largest rally, which drew thousands of peaceful marchers in Kowloon.
Police said rioters tossing gasoline bombs damaged a subway station, but there was no repeat of the more intense destruction and battles between protesters and police that have spread across Hong Kong.
Still, restoring any semblance of trust between police officers and the 7.5 million people they are sworn to serve and protect is going to be a long, hard battle.
Demonstrators widely decry the force’s policing of the hundreds of protests that began in early June as thuggish, with more than 2,300 people arrested. Its liberal use of tear gas and what has become a familiar sight of officers in full riot gear pursuing young protesters and making muscular, sometimes brutish arrests has come as a shock to a city that long prided itself on being safe.
“They beat the butts out of people,” said the 90-year-old woman, Cheng Liang Yu, who angrily shouted at the passing police van with her 60-year-old daughter, Dorothy Lau.
One of Lau’s daughters is a part-time police officer. Lau has her photo, proudly saluting in her police uniform, stored on her cellphone. But she was equally dismissive of the force her daughter serves.
“They’re too violent,” she said.
Together with another of Lau’s daughters, Liz Yuen, the women joined a protest of about 200 people, many of them retirees, outside the towering police headquarters in central Hong Kong on Saturday. The peaceful rally held a minute’s silence for victims of what protesters described as police abuse. Photos taped on the sidewalk showed X-rays of fractured bones that protesters alleged were broken in police custody.