HK police turn water cannon on protesters, fire tear gas
They also confirm at least one gunshot was fired, as protesters throw petrol bombs and bricks
HONG KONG: Police in Hong Kong fired tear gas and water cannon amid running battles with brick-throwing protesters in driving rain yesterday, after clashes a day earlier in which police fired tear gas for the first time in more than a week.
At least six petrol bombs were thrown by protesters, some of whom took off down narrow side streets. The water cannon, which had not been used in years of anti-government protests, could not follow.
The police also confirmed that there was at least one gunshot during the protests.
The city's MTR rail operator had suspended some services to try to prevent people gathering but the protesters, calling for democracy for the former British colony, made it to a sports stadium in the vast container port of Kwai Chung, from where they marched to nearby Tsuen Wan.
Some dug up bricks from the pavement and wheeled them away to use as ammunition, others sprayed detergent on the road to make it slippery for the lines of police. Clashes spread in many directions.
The vast majority marched peacefully.
Police had warned earlier they would launch a "dispersal operation" and told people to leave. Hundreds remained long after dusk fell, discussing what to do next, surrounded by empty tear gas canisters, bricks, metal railings and other debris.
"Some radical protesters have removed railings ... and set up barricades with water-filled barriers, bamboo sticks, traffic cones and other objects," they said in a statement.
"Such acts neglect the safety of citizens and road users, paralysing traffic in the vicinity," the statement said.
Activists threw petrol bombs and bricks on Saturday in the gritty industrial district of Kwun Tong, on the east of the Kowloon peninsula.
Mr M. Sung, a 53-year-old software engineer in a black mask emblematic of the many older, middle-class citizens at the march, said he had been at almost every protest and would keep coming.
"We know this is the last chance to fight for 'one country, two systems', otherwise the Chinese Communist Party will penetrate our home city and control everything.
"If we keep a strong mind, we can sustain this movement for justice and democracy. It won't die," Mr Sung said.
The protesters are fighting the erosion of the "one country, two systems" arrangement under which Hong Kong returned to China in 1997, with the promise of continued freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland for 50 years.
The protests, which started over a now-suspended extradition Bill, have rocked Hong Kong for three months and plunged the city into its biggest political crisis since the handover. - REUTERS
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