As Hong Kong wrestles with the combined impacts of an economic downturn and the novel coronavirus outbreak, a new kind of threat has emerged over the past 90 days. The usage of IEDs has become more prevalent both in and around the central district as well as near the border with the mainland. From pipe bombs at protests rallies to homemade explosives being detonated at medical centers, an increasingly radicalized minority has resorted to extreme tactics. The graphic below provides a detailed breakdown of all bombing incidents within the past 90 days.

The red pings represent successful IED detonations while the blue pins represent IEDs that were successfully planted but detected and defused in time. Green pings are IEDs discovered in safe houses being used to plot attacks. Targets have been varied, ranging from border checkpoints to schools and village buildings. However, what is clear is that the central district and border areas remain a target of anarchist groups. Whilst the Hong Kong police have foiled a majority of the attacks, their strategies are not foolproof with all 3 successful detonations taking place over the course of the past week. The graphic below breaks down police efforts. 

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Classifying the bomb plots over the past 90 days by success rate, it becomes clear that 75% of all bombs were successfully planted. Although the police defused 63% of these IEDs, a sizable minority was still detonated in public areas. The nature of the targets has varied considerably with schools, hospitals, police checkpoints and border control checkpoints all coming under attack. 

Although these targets are primarily public institutions, the attack focus could just as easily pivot to target “blue” businesses that are dubbed pro-regime. The current climate is extremely tenuous as the protest movements continue to agitate for a clampdown on links with the Mainland. Although future developments cannot be predicted with absolute certainty, the increased prevalence of bombings has altered the threat landscape. Businesses should focus on instituting security measures that prevent the movement of unauthorized personnel in/out of work sites. Additionally, suspicious items/personnel should immediately be reported to authorities. 

A full description of all bombing attempts can be found below;

9 Dec 2019Wah Yan College – Hong Kong, 281 Queen’s Rd E, Wan Chai, Hong Kong2 IEDs defused
14 Dec 2019Siu Lang Shui Rd, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong1 remote controlled bomb discovered
15 Dec 2019Tai Wong Ha Tsuen, Hong Kong1 IED defused
14 Jan 2020Sheung Shui, Hong Kong100 grams of high explosives discovered
27 Jan 2020Caritas Medical Centre1 IED exploded
27 Jan 2020King George V Memorial Park, Hospital Rd, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong1 IED exploded
28 Jan 2020Shenzhen Bay Immigration Control Point, Shenzhen Bay Port Hong Kong Port Area 1 IED unexploded
2 Feb 2020MTR Lo Wu Station Terminal, Lo Wu2 IEDs defused


Thiyaghessan Poongundranar is a political risk analyst at Polysentry — a technology company providing risk managers, executives, security teams, and operations centers with personalized threat intelligence. Polysentry leverages your locations, facilities, and/or supply chain data to provide in real-time situational intelligence in any country globally. Get a free demo of Polysentry’s security platform today and build a complete customized security monitoring dashboard for your company. 

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