Tensions soar after night of clashes in Hong Kong

Dennis CHONG, Aaron TAM, AFP

With demonstrations now in their third month, tensions soared after police beat back demonstrators who had surged onto a main road outside the government complex shouting: “Surround the headquarters. Paralyse the government.” “In a situation where they had no other choice, police used a minimal amount of force including spraying water, pepper spray… and batons,” senior superintendent Tsui Wai-hung said.

Bloodied face Tearful protesters were forced from the government site and roads were cleared for traffic before morning rush hour Monday, but government offices remained closed with the de facto parliament suspended Monday morning. Emotions were running high, with clashes between police and protesters at a shopping arcade near the Admiralty site, with at least one person stretchered away, according to an AFP reporter at the scene. In chaotic scenes overnight, hundreds of protesters wearing helmets and wielding umbrellas spilled into a major road outside the office of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Police said they had made 40 arrests overnight and 11 officers had been injured. Several protesters were injured in the overnight clashes. One was seen led away by police with a bloodied face, while others were tended to by first-aid volunteers after being fired at with pepper spray. Protesters wore builders’ hard hats and used umbrellas – which have come to symbolise the pro-democracy movement – to shield themselves from the pepper spray. Police had to dodge helmets and bottles that were lobbed through the air. One officer was carted into the back of an ambulance on a stretcher. “This is a long-awaited escalation of action. It should have happened ages ago,” protester Kelvin Lau told AFP.