News World Hong Kong protests erupt in the worst violence yet

Hong Kong protests erupt in the worst violence yet

Battered and bloodied, this protesters wounds testify to the escalating ferocity of clashes in Hong Kong. Photo: EPA
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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 on Saturday 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.

Most protesters in Tuen Mun were peaceful but some threw petrol bombs and bricks towards 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.

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 two and a half kilometres from a playground to a government office building. Many were dressed in black and carried umbrellas, a symbol of their movement.

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.

Police swoop on volunteer first aid workers in this montage of pictures from the latest protests. Photo: lam chau bar/Twitter

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

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

Economic damage

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

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

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

Later on 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 petrol 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 subway stations, which have witnessed savage police attacks on protesters in recent weeks.

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

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong airport announced restrictions on access on 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.