Chinese activists have hit out at a late-night attack on Beijing-based veteran rights campaigner Hu Jia that he said was carried out by "plainclothes cops."
"Just now, at 8:12 p.m. today, July 16, I was set upon and injured by some plainclothes personnel about 100 meters (330 feet) from the eastern exit of the Caofang subway system, on the north side of the road," Hu wrote on Twitter late on Wednesday.
"Afterwards, they got into their vehicle and drove away. I couldn't see the registration because I had dropped my glasses," he wrote.
"I feel terrible right now; I'm leaning on the side of the road, and am about to call the police," Hu added, posting a photo of himself.
Later, Hu tweeted: "I recall very clearly that some plainclothes guys in black kicked me in the stomach. They fought like professionals, grabbing my throat and then landing the first punch on my eye."
"It was a heavy blow, and made my nose bleed immediately."
Hu later wrote that local police had been unable to identify the car registration from surveillance cameras, and that he planned to seek treatment for his injuries in hospital.
Hu told RFA on Thursday that he was still in pain from the injuries to his head.
"They smashed one side of my nose in and broke it, and the doctor said I'd need three or four days in hospital and minor surgery to set it straight again," he said.
"I have basically decided to go ahead with the surgery because it won't heal by itself, but I'll get a second opinion ... today."
'Like rabid tigers'
Hu said he had met with a Spanish photographer and documentary filmmaker on Wednesday who is planning a film about rights activist Cao Shunli, who died shortly after being released from police custody earlier this year after her lawyer said she was denied adequate medical care in a Beijing detention center.
He said the attackers were waiting for him as he returned to his parked car after the meeting.
"As soon as they saw it was me, they jumped on me like rabid tigers, grabbed me and punched me in the eye, on the frame of my glasses, and the blood came out instantly," he said.
"The glasses smashed and the glass cut me; it hurt a lot," Hu added. "Then they carried on beating me with fists and feet for about two minutes, which passed very slowly."
"These guys were about 1.78 meters (5.8 feet) tall, the other one maybe about 1.85 meters (6.1 feet), and they had definitely been trained," he said.
Attacks more common
Sichuan-based rights activist and founder of the Tianwang rights website Huang Qi said such attacks on dissidents and rights campaigners had become more and more common over the past decade.
"[They] are targeted in all sorts of ways, including being locked up in black jails, and being beaten up by plainclothes personnel," Huang said. "This attack on Hu Jia is just one example."
Huang called on President Xi Jinping to end the use of "illegal methods" against critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
"[Activists] are targeted openly and covertly, and ... they can also have their personal freedom limited or their right to work stripped from them, or be prevented from leaving the country, to attend academic conferences," Huang said.
He lauded Hu's reporting of the attack on social media.
"Any activist who is targeted should stand up and speak out," Huang said. "That is the only way that there will be any hope for human rights in China."
Meanwhile, U.S.-based rights activist Liu Qing said the Chinese government is quite capable of stooping to "gangster tactics" when it chooses.
"They have an utter lack of respect for the law," Liu said. "They use it or ignore it or tweak it [to suit their own purposes]."
He said Hu, a long-time campaigner on AIDS issues and for civil rights in general, has previously been subjected to prolonged "criminal detention" and periods of house arrest at his Beijing home.
"Why do the authorities in Beijing employ such gangster tactics? Because they can't find any pretext on which to arrest activists," Liu said.
"So they resort to illegal methods ... and such incidents are likely to become more common."
Hu was handed a three-and-a-half year jail term in 2008 for "incitement to subversion" after he wrote online articles critical of China's hosting of the Olympics.
A campaigner for human rights and AIDS victims in China, Hu was awarded the Sakharov Prize, a major human rights award, by the European Union in 2008.
He had acted as a key source of information for foreign media on human rights and environmental violations, government abuses, judicial injustices, and the mistreatment of dissidents.
More recently, Hu has been a vocal supporter of jailed Uyghur dissident Ilham Tohti, regularly speaking out against Chinese government policy in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Reported by Qiao Long and Gao Shan for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Grace Kei Lai-see for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.