Dozens of people were arrested after anti-government protests held in multiple locations in Hong Kong on Monday resulted in running battles between demonstrators and the police.
Following a general strike in the morning that paralyzed transport and caused more than 200 flight cancellations, which brought the city to an unprecedented standstill, tens of thousands took part in rallies to put pressure on the government to respond to their demands, which include complete withdrawal of the extradition bill and setting up an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality.
While the simultaneous rallies, which were held in Admiralty, Mong Kok, Sha Tin, Tai Po, Tuen Mun, Tsuen Wan, and Wong Tai Sin, were peaceful in the beginning, black-clad participants left the venues later and took to the streets to demonstrate against the government and the police force.
Demonstrators were seen in those districts blocking roads, including the Cross Harbour Tunnel and major trunk lines, besieging local police stations and vandalizing police vehicles, attacking police officers and committing arson.
The confrontations saw anti-riot police fire tear gas and rubber bullets to rein in the crowds.
In Admiralty, where the government headquarters are located, police fired multiple rounds of tear gas at protesters occupying Harcourt Road, who threw stones and eggs at officers in return before most of them left the area for Wan Chai and Causeway Bay later in the afternoon.
Police, who had cleared most of the demonstrators from several districts in Kowloon by around 2 am Tuesday, condemned the violent acts by protesters, saying they are posing a serious threat to the safety of road users, RTHK reported.
According to police data, 82 people had been arrested in different districts for unlawful assembly and other offenses as of 4 pm Monday, while at least 24 people sustained injuries, including one in serious condition.
Several journalists covering the events also ended up suffering injuries. In Sham Shui Po, a student journalist suffered what appeared to be a serious head injury late on Tuesday night, as he was struck by a canister of tear gas fired by police.
Other journalists who were next to the victim said riot police had charged forward into a group of them, even though they had shouted out that one of them had been hurt. One reporter from Ta Kung Pao newspaper was forced to the ground and taken to the station by police officers, after he stopped the police charge by grabbing onto an officer’s collar.
Police denounced the “violent acts” by protesters, accusing them of posing a threat to public safety by blocking roads across the city and setting fire to miscellaneous objects.
In response to the Hong Kong chaos on Tuesday, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office (HKMAO) of China’s State Council is set to hold a briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, the second of its kind after a previous such exercise on July 29.
Also, media reports have said that Beijing’s Liaison Office will hold a meeting with Hong Kong delegates of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s top political advisory body, and local deputies of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Shenzhen on Wednesday.
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