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Protesters and police in fresh clashes in Hong Kong

World News | Published:

The former British colony has entered its fourth month of anti-government protests.

Hong Kong protests

Protesters in Hong Kong threw petrol bombs and police fired tear gas in response amid renewed clashes over anti-government grievances.

Reporters saw at least one person arrested after violence erupted following an afternoon march by several thousand people in Tuen Mun, a district in the north-west of the Chinese territory.

Hong Kong is in its fourth month of sometimes violent protests which occur every weekend.

They started with opposition to a proposed extradition law and have expanded to include demands for greater democracy.

Police run during a confrontation with protesters
Police run during a confrontation with protesters (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Most protesters in Tuen Mun were peaceful but some threw petrol bombs and bricks toward police who faced them down the street.

The missiles appeared to fall short of the police and there was no indication anyone was hit.

Police in riot gear responded by firing tear gas.

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In the evening, protesters gathered at a shopping mall in another district, Yuen Long. Some threw petrol bombs in the street but there was no indication anyone was injured.

Elsewhere, scuffles were reported as government supporters heeded a call by a pro-Beijing member of the Hong Kong legislature to tear down protest posters at subway stations.

The events are an embarrassment for China’s Communist Party ahead of the October 1 celebrations of its 70th anniversary in power. Hong Kong’s government has cancelled a fireworks display that day, citing concern for public safety.

The protesters in Tuen Mun marched about one and a half miles from a playground to a government office building. Many were dressed in black and carried umbrellas, a symbol of their movement.

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An umbrella is abandoned near barricades
An umbrella is a symbol of the protest movement (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Most were peaceful but some took down a Chinese flag from a pole outside a government office and set fire to it. Protesters also set up barricades to block traffic.

A government statement said protesters caused unspecified damage to the Tuen Mun light rail station and threw objects onto the tracks.

An organiser quoted by government broadcaster RTHK criticised police for sending armed anti-riot officers.

That will “only escalate tension between protesters and police,” Michael Mo was quoted as saying.

Hong Kong’s leader, chief executive Carrie Lam, has agreed to withdraw the extradition bill. But protesters are pressing other demands, including an independent investigation of complaints about police violence during earlier demonstrations.

Protesters complain that Beijing and Ms Lam’s government are eroding the “high degree of autonomy” and Western-style civil liberties promised to the former British colony when it was returned to China in 1997.

The protests have begun to weigh on Hong Kong’s economy, which already was slowing due to cooling global consumer demand. Hong Kong airport said passenger traffic fell in August, and business is down at hotels and retailers.

A protester lowers a Chinese flag which was later burned
Demonstrators burned the Chinese flag and marched through an outlying district of Hong Kong (AP/Vincent Yu)

Police refused permission for Saturday’s march, but an appeal tribunal agreed to allow a two-hour event.

Protesters in Tuen Mun also complained about a group of women from mainland China who sing in a local park. Residents say they are too loud and have accused some of asking for money or engaging in prostitution.

Those complaints prompted a similar march in July, highlighting tension between Hong Kong residents and migrants from mainland China.

Later Saturday, protesters gathered at a mall in Yuen Long, where men with sticks beat protesters and subway passengers there on July 21 in an incident that caused controversy in Hong Kong.

Some protesters threw gasoline bombs on the street outside the Yoho Mall but there was no indication anyone was injured. Others started small fires in the street.

Also on Saturday, there were brief scuffles as government supporters tore down protest posters at several subway stops, according to RTHK, the government broadcaster.

That campaign was initiated by a pro-Beijing member of Hong Kong’s legislature, Junius Ho.

Near the subway station in the Tsuen Wan area, a woman who was tearing down posters threw a bag at a reporter and a man shoved a cameraman, RTHK reported. It said there was pushing and shoving between the two sides at stations in Yuen Long and Lok Fu.

Mr Ho made an appearance in the Shau Kei Wan area, but residents shouted at him and told him to leave, RTHK said.

He initially called for protest signs to be torn down in all 18 of Hong Kong’s districts but he said on Friday that would be reduced to clearing up rubbish from streets due to “safety concerns”.

On Wednesday, the Hong Kong Jockey Club cancelled a horse race after some protesters suggested targeting the club because a horse owned by Mr Ho was due to run.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong airport announced restrictions on access Sunday following what it said were calls to disrupt traffic there.

The airport train from downtown will skip Kowloon and other stops en route, the Airport Authority said. Only passengers with valid tickets and travel documents will be allowed into the airport.

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