HONG KONG - Hong Kong protesters have rallied behind a young woman who was reportedly hit in the eye by a projectile fired by the city's embattled police on Sunday night (Aug 11) as the anti-government protests entered their second month.
The unnamed woman, said to be one of the thousands of protesters who hit the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday night, was allegedly hit by a beanbag round fired by the police.
However, there are some reports which said she is a medical worker.
Images of the woman lying on a pavement with her face covered in blood as well as photos of what looked like a beanbag round lodged in a pair of goggles said to be found next to her quickly went viral.
Rumours also circulated that she has lost her vision.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Roy Kwong posted on Facebook that the woman was in "very serious" condition.
She underwent surgery at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei in the early hours of Monday after emergency treatment at the scene.
Citing hospital sources, Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao said her right eyeball was ruptured, and her right eyelid and maxilla were also broken.
"I can confirm her injury is really serious," the South China Morning Post quoted a doctor at the hospital as saying.
A commentator at online forum LIHKG, who claimed to be the woman's younger sister, said the injured right eye was swollen to the size of "an egg".
"There was a long cut from the inner corner of the right eye to just under eye. Stitches were done late at night," read the post posted on Monday morning. "The doctor said the injury was serious and bones near the area which was shot were all fractured."
The commentator also claimed that the injured woman was at a bus station and was not acting aggressively. She was allegedly shot when she looked out between the advertising panels at the station.
The incident angered many protesters.
Using the rallying cry "an eye for an eye", which also featured in posters calling for demonstrations, many of them covered their right eyes with eye patches or bandages at a sit-in protest at Hong Kong International Airport later on Monday in an expression of solidarity with the woman.
However, police have disputed the widely-held public opinion that they are responsible for the women's injury.
At a press conference, Assistant Commissioner of Police Mak Chin-ho said there was no proof that the woman was shot by the police but they have pledged to investigate the matter.
China's state-run Global Times on Monday quoted an unnamed former senior police officer as saying that it was "technically impossible" for police to shoot anyone in the eye.
"The location of the injured person is not within the scope of the police shooting," a source told the newspaper.
"Unless the bullet turned round then the bullet could not injure the female. If it were beanbag, I believe she would have been dead."