Hong Kong authorities cleared barricades from a protest site in Mong Kong district for a second day Wednesday after violent clashes erupted overnight, resulting in numerous arrests.
By 3 p.m. Tuesday, Argyle Street, a key artery in the protest area, had been opened to vehicular traffic after street occupiers retreated to nearby Portland Street, Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday.
Riot police helping bailiffs enforce a High Court order to clear the area fired pepper spray at unruly crowds.
A number of protesters were injured and 116 were arrested while a few policemen were wounded, according to the Associated Press.
Some fled toward Yau Ma Tei as the police, armed with truncheons and shields, pressed forward. The Nathan Road protest site was not affected.
The operation involved more than 7,000 officers in the biggest coordinated action since a failed dispersal operation in the early hours of the student-driven protests nearly two months ago.
The two other protest sites are Admiralty and Causeway Bay.
Yvonne Leung, a leader of Hong Kong Federation of Students condemned the police for using excessive force.
She warned the protesters will ramp up their street occupation if the police continue the clearing operation.
Meanwhile, Financial Secretary John Tsang called for restraint and reason and urged the protesters to voluntarily leave the protest site to avoid further violence.
Kong Man-keung, senior superintendent of Hong Kong Police Public Relation Bureau, defended the police action, saying they are helping carry out a High Court order.
Officers made the arrests after protesters ignored repeated warnings, he said.
An engineering employee of Now TV was among the arrested.
In a statement, the station called the arrest “frustrating and regrettable”, saying the employee was merely performing his duty as part of a news team.
The statement said the employee was arrested for allegedly attacking the police with a camera ladder.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association strongly condemned the incident.
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