The home and former offices of Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai — an outspoken critic of Beijing who also played a prominent role in large pro-democracy protests late last year — were firebombed early Monday, a spokesman said.
The first attack took place around 1:30 a.m. local time when a car reversed up to Lai's house and threw an object that exploded into flames when it hit the gates.
About 20 minutes later, one or two other incendiary devices were thrown at the gates of Next Media, the pro-democracy media company Lai used to own.
"This is a continual effort to try to intimidate the press in Hong Kong," said Next Media spokesman Mark Simon. "This is raw and pure intimidation."
Such acts will not be tolerated "no matter what social status or political background, or political views [of any individual]," Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen told reporters.
He said police would investigate the firebombing like any other criminal act.
Lai, who stepped down as chairman of Next Media and as publisher of the Apple Daily tabloid in December, is a well-known critic of Beijing.
He was arrested for refusing to leave a pro-democracy protest site in central Hong Kong last month as police cleared protesters who had shut major thoroughfares in the city for two-and-a-half months.
In September, ten of thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong to demand open elections in the semi-autonomous city. China took control of the former British colony in 1997, agreeing to a policy of "one country, two systems," which allowed Hong Kong to keep civil liberties unseen on the mainland, and promising that the city's leader would eventually be chosen through universal suffrage. But Beijing's insistence on screening election candidates in advance has stoked fears among democracy groups that Hong Kong will never have a genuine democracy.
This is not the first time Lai and Next Media have come under attack.
In 2013, masked men torched tens of thousands of copies of two Apple Daily editions at distribution points.
Last year, Next Media said HSBC Holdings and Standard Chartered pulled millions of dollars worth of advertising from Apple Daily after being pressured by Beijing, decisions both banks said were commercial.
Lai's home has also been attacked before, including being rammed by a car and having a machete, axe and threatening messages left in his driveway.
Al Jazeera and Reuters