About an hour before midnight on Friday, a Mass Transit Railway (MTR) train filled with passengers headed to Guangzhou, a port city northwest of Hong Kong, was set upon by more than 20 black-clad assailants.

Video footage showed the attackers using hammers and steel bars to smash glass windows on the train and surveillance cameras on the train platform.

The video showed frightened children crying as well as adult passengers screaming in fear as the mob threw large stones, a bicycle and other objects into the platform gap as the train was pulling away from the station. MTR on Monday suspended through-train services to several mainland Chinese destinations, including Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai, with several trains also canceled Sunday.

An MTR spokesperson said that 20 glass panels were vandalized, and a train compartment was defaced. She told reporters, “At the same time, somebody threw objects in the East Rail area in an attempt to block the train from moving. As a result, the train was forced to pull off between Fanling and Sheung Shui. This incident caused a serious threat to the safety of the railway and the staff. The MTR Corp. strongly condemns such acts.”

As is often the case with civil unrest, peaceful protests can turn into a sustained campaign of vandalism led by the more hard-core elements of the movement. In this case, the anti-government actions against MTR escalated last Friday. The vandals lit fires at exits, destroyed turnstiles, assaulted MTR workers and flooded offices.

By Monday, 54 of 94 MTR stations shut down at 6:00 p.m. with the one exception of the Airport Express. This came on the heels of Saturday’s unprecedented closure of the entire network out of safety concerns for passengers and staff.

Another concern with the mob violence is the well-being of recent immigrants from mainland China who say they are “becoming increasingly anxious” as the protests have turned into a violent campaign against all things Chinese

Mandarin (a Chinese language dialect) speakers say they are keeping quiet in public and telling their children to speak English to avoid being targeted in the city where Cantonese is the predominant dialect.

“Mary”, who requested that her real name not be used, is a 35-year-old who works in the financial industry. She speaks fluent Cantonese but was harassed by a young man who overheard her talking to a friend in Mandarin. She lamented, “I can’t understand why speaking Mandarin is now a sin in Hong Kong,” and says the incident left her shaken and upset. The incident was reported by the South China Morning Post.