Anti-government protesters paralyzed parts of Hong Kong for a third day, with some transport links, schools and many businesses closing after an escalation of violence.
Around 1,000 protesters blocked roads in the heart of the city’s Central business district during the lunchtime rush hour.
Wearing now-banned face masks and dressed in office wear, they marched and hurled bricks onto roads lined with some of the world’s most expensive real estate and luxury flagship stores.
Scores of riot police tried to disperse the crowds, grappling some people to the ground and beating others with batons near the city’s stock exchange.
Activists had blocked roads, torched several vehicles, hurled petrol bombs at a police station and smashed part of a major shopping mall in various districts the previous night.
Protesters and police had battled through the night at university campuses, and many campuses remained tense on Wednesday.
The flare-ups came after police shot an unarmed protester at close range on Monday and police said “rioters” doused a man with petrol and set him on fire in some of the worst violence since protests began more than five months ago.
Protesters also plan demonstrations across the harbor from Central on the Kowloon peninsula and in the outlying New Territories, according to notices circulated on social media.
The disruptions caused delays for thousands of commuters who queued at metro stations across Hong Kong early on Wednesday after some railway services were suspended and roads closed.
The city’s Education Bureau said all schools will shut on Thursday for transport and safety reasons.
There were chaotic scenes through the night at the prestigious Chinese University, with explosions, plumes of smoke, yelling and sustained firing of tear gas and rubber bullets during which scores were injured.
The Hospital Authority said 81 people had been injured since Monday, with two in serious condition.
The youngest was 10 months old but the cause of the infant’s injuries was not known.
Many banks and retail stores in bustling commercial areas shut on Wednesday, while the Jockey Club canceled its evening races.
Many recreational clubs said they were also shut for the day or plans to close early. Reuters
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