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Thousands block roads, transport links to HK airport

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Protesters smash cameras at train station, after intense overnight clashes with police

HONG KONG: Thousands of protesters blocked roads and public transport links to Hong Kong airport yesterday in a bid to draw global attention to their fight for greater democracy as the city's biggest political crisis in decades rolled on.

Planes were taking off and landing, with delays, but trains were suspended and approach roads to the airport impassable as protesters erected barricades and overturned trolleys at the airport and in Tung Chung.

Some passengers were forced to walk the last bit of their journey to the airport by foot, dragging their luggage behind them.

The local railway station in Tung Chung was closed and demonstrators smashed surveillance cameras and lamps with metal poles and dismantled turnstiles. Police made several arrests.


Hong Kong's airport is one of the world's busiest and most efficient and is reached by a series of bridges that are normally packed with traffic.

"If we disrupt the airport, more foreigners will read the news about Hong Kong," said one 20-year-old protester, asking not to be named.

Black-clad demonstrators targeted the airport three weeks ago, jamming the terminal in sometimes violent clashes with police and prompting flights to be cancelled or delayed.

Police said protesters yesterday hurled iron poles, bricks and rocks on to the railway track near the airport station and trespassed on the track.

By early evening, protesters in the immediate vicinity of the airport had left, but those in Tung Chung remained.

"We have no idea how to leave. We're stuck," a masked protester said, as others looked for buses and ferries to get home.

Yesterday's demonstration comes after police and protesters clashed overnight in some of the most intense violence since unrest erupted more than three months ago over concerns Beijing is eroding the autonomy granted to the territory when it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

China denies the charge of meddling and says Hong Kong is an internal affair.

It has denounced the protests and warned of the damage they can do to the economy.

Tourist numbers have plummeted in recent weeks and international trade fairs cancelled as the territory faces its first recession in a decade.

Several hundred demonstrators also gathered outside the British consulate in central Hong Kong, waving Union Jack flags and chanting God save the Queen.

Parts of the railway system ground to a halt as skirmishes spread on Saturday, with television showing video of people being beaten by the police as they cowered on the floor behind umbrellas.

Police said they arrested 63 people aged between 13 and 36. - REUTERS