HONG KONG: Hong Kong police were on Thursday investigating an attack on a former newspaper editor who is in a critical condition after being hacked with a cleaver, the latest incident to stoke fears over media freedom in the territory.
The attack on Kevin Lau, former editor of the liberal Ming Pao newspaper, has sparked condemnation from the United States and press groups at a time of growing unease over media rights in the southern Chinese city.
“Officers are now at the scene and they are investigating,” said a police spokeswoman.
Lau, who was known for his hard-hitting political investigations, was attacked on Wednesday by two men who escaped on a motorbike in the Chai Wan district where the newspaper’s headquarters are located.
“From initial investigations, it is believed that the motorcycle was stolen,” the police spokeswoman said.
The journalist has undergone surgeries for wounds including a 16 centimeter-long (six-inch) gash that cut through his back muscles and remains in “a critical condition,” a Hong Kong Hospital Authority spokesman said Thursday morning.
Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chunying later told reporters “Mr. Lau’s situation has made progress,” without elaborating on his condition.
The police have described the attack as “a classic triad hit, which was designed to maim, not kill, to send a warning,” the South China Morning Post reported.
Security camera images released by police late Wednesday showed two people, believed to be the suspects, wearing dark clothing and riding a motorcycle on a busy street.
On Thursday, investigators visited shops and restaurants in the neighborhood where the attack took place to seek clues, but no arrests have been made so far.
The attack on Lau has triggered widespread condemnation, with the United States consulate saying Wednesday it was “deeply concerned about . . . this vicious crime” as it joined calls from media groups for the authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.