Hong Konger ‘missing’ after crossing China bridge checkpoint

The man was traveling by bus on Friday afternoon along the bridge-and-tunnel network linking Hong Kong, Macau and mainland city Zhuhai. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 15 December 2019

Hong Konger ‘missing’ after crossing China bridge checkpoint

  • The man texted his son saying he was being detained
  • Mainland police set up a checkpoint in Macau ahead of President Xi visit

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s immigration department said Sunday they have received reports a man went missing on a cross-border mega bridge to the gambling hub of Macau that currently hosts a Chinese mainland police checkpoint.
The disappearance first emerged on Saturday when the man’s son told local media his father had texted to say he was being detained while passing through an artificial island manned by Chinese police on his way to the semi-autonomous city of Macau.
The man was traveling by bus on Friday afternoon along the bridge-and-tunnel network linking Hong Kong, Macau and mainland city Zhuhai, his son said.
“His last message said ‘I got arrested’,” the son told Cable News, speaking anonymously.
The artificial island in the middle of the Pearl River Delta lies in Chinese mainland waters.
It does not normally host a checkpoint. But mainland police set one up there last week with X-ray machines and facial-recognition checks ahead of an upcoming visit to Macau by President Xi Jinping.
Hong Kong’s immigration department told AFP it had “received a request for help” regarding a resident “who was suspected to have gone missing... when traveling to Macau via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai Macau Bridge.”
The spokesman added that the department was reaching out to the city’s trade office in the Chinese province of Guangdong, which borders Macau.
Security is being ramped up in Macau ahead of Xi’s visit to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its handover from Portugal to China on Friday.
Last week Guangdong’s public security department said it was setting up a checkpoint on the artificial island to “create a favorable social environment” for the anniversary celebrations.
Hong Kong’s security bureau declined to comment on whether it was aware of the new checkpoint on the bridge.
AFP reporters passed through the checkpoint last Wednesday. It was manned by dozens of heavily armed SWAT officers, and bus passengers had their luggage, faces and identity documents screened.
The Macau celebrations come as Hong Kong has been convulsed by six months of huge and often violent pro-democracy protests as the city chafes under Beijing’s rule.
The protests were initially sparked by a now-abandoned plan to allow extraditions to the mainland where the courts are opaque and controlled by the Communist Party.
The 2015 disappearance into mainland custody of five booksellers who published salacious tomes about China’s leaders also sparked outrage.
The bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai is an engineering marvel but some have criticized the undeclared costs which ran into the tens of billions.
A newly opened high-speed rail link to the mainland has also proved controversial because part of the terminus in the heart of Hong Kong’s Kowloon district is governed by mainland Chinese law.


Afghan forces arrest regional Daesh leader

Updated 04 April 2020

Afghan forces arrest regional Daesh leader

  • Aslam Farooqi, also known as Abdullah Orakzai, had been arrested along with the other men in a “complex operation”
  • Farooqi was the mastermind behind a Daesh-claimed attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul last month that killed at least 25 people

KABUL: Afghan forces have arrested the leader of the country’s Daesh group affiliate along with 19 other extremists, authorities said Saturday.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a statement that Aslam Farooqi, also known as Abdullah Orakzai, had been arrested along with the other men in a “complex operation.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an NDS official told AFP that Farooqi was the mastermind behind a Daesh-claimed attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul last month that killed at least 25 people.
Known as Islamic State in the Khorasan (IS-K), the Afghan Daesh branch has been on its back foot in recent months following continued operations by US forces and separately by the Taliban.
In November, Afghan officials said IS-K had been completely defeated in Nangarhar, one of the key eastern provinces where they first sought to establish a stronghold in 2015.
In the years since, they have claimed responsibility for a string of horrific bombings across Afghanistan.
In its statement, the NDS said Farooqi had admitted to having links with “regional intelligence agencies” — a clear reference to Pakistan, which Afghanistan routinely blames for supporting extremists and helping the Taliban.
Islamabad denies it does so.
US Forces-Afghanistan did not immediately respond to a query about Farooqi’s arrest.