HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong police said Monday they have arrested nine people and seized materials for making explosives at a suburban former TV studio.
Police arrested five men and four women for alleged conspiracy to manufacture explosives, said Chief Superintendent Au Chin-sau of the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau.
Au told a news briefing that some were members of a local radical group, but did not give an exact number or identify the group.
Police said officers found "several kilograms" of a solid substance and five liters of a liquid believed to be used to make explosives at the studio. They also found about 2 liters of a raw material used to make triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, at one of the suspect's homes.
TATP is a high explosive that was used in the 2005 London bombings that killed 52 commuters.
The arrests come as tensions rise ahead of a vote later this week by Hong Kong lawmakers on controversial Beijing-backed election reforms that sparked huge street protests last year. Pro-democracy protesters are rallying each evening this week outside of government headquarters to demand lawmakers veto the proposal, which they say doesn't offer genuine democracy and violates China's promise to eventually allow universal suffrage.
Police said they also seized air rifles, a formula to make smoke grenades, and masks bearing the likeness of Guy Fawkes, who was behind a failed 1605 plot to blow up Britain's Parliament. The masks were popularized by the movie "V for Vendetta."
Police also found maps of the Wan Chai and Admiralty neighborhoods, the latter home to the city legislature and government headquarter complex but also the People's Liberation Army's main base and numerous luxury hotels and office towers.
"There is a possibility that this group of people may want to do something in those particular locations," Au said, but would not be more specific.